I’ve just found this – I was supposed to post it back in December, after Happy as a pig in a sauna. I’ve no idea why I didn’t. Probably running late for the school run, and then completely forgot all about it. I’m really organised like that.
After all that excitement, you might think I would be a bit tired on Friday morning. Not a bit of it. I woke up at eight to a freshly made cafetiere of brilliantly strong coffee, and a pink Alistair. A very pink Alistair. A seriously pink Alistair, who had suddenly lost all the snot that had caused him to be such a wet blanket the day before. He had been cured by the sauna, and spent such a long time in there that when we went outside for a cigarette, he was steaming from every inch of his body. I was in such rollicking good spirits that this struck me as hilarious and I could barely inhale anything at all as a result.
I did manage to eat a fair bit of my 15 mile Norfolk breakfast (and a bloody good job I did, considering what was to transpire that afternoon), which was blimming delicious. But soon, too soon, it was time for us to get back in the car and wave a fond farewell to The Pigs (with me mouthing sadly ‘I’ll never forget you. I love you’ as we drove out of the car park).
My mum had been very clear that we didn’t need to come home too early. In fact, she had actually been quite insistent that we didn’t come home before five. She really didn’t want us to come home. Curious. Can’t think why. So we had a few more hours to wring some fun out of, I was in worryingly high spirits, and Alistair had been restored to his full fighting weight now that the snot had melted away. It was a beautiful day, the sun was high in the big blue sky and the howling gale of the day before had vanished. Onwards! To Sheringham!
I say I was in worryingly high spirits. This generally means that I will find absolutely everything pants wettingly funny, and Sheringham certainly did not disappoint. First of all was the cheery sign:
I see what they’ve tried to do there. Someone’s thought ‘All that grey, stained concrete looks a bit bleak. Let’s add a nice little motto to it instead, in a nice bright blue.’ Instead, the zinginess of the blue just makes the unrelenting grey seem even bleaker and depressing. Job done.
Further on, at some point, someone commissioned a local artist to paint a mural of beach life on the concrete. Look, I’m not artistic. I can barely draw a straight line with a ruler. But this mural was very much of the half-arsed variety, and I could only conclude that halfway through it being made, the funding ran out and the artist buggered off. The first painting we saw had me convulsed with giggles. I think the woman is supposed to be taking a photo. But it’s certainly open to interpretation.
Then there’s the ice cream van lady. I don’t think it was modelled on John Bird, but I can’t be sure.
And here we see Ed Balls smirking that Iain Duncan Smith fell for the old ‘Death by Cyanide Sandwich’ trick.
They’re definitely very welcoming in Sheringham though. Just look at this sign:
Welcome to Sheringham! Here are all the interesting ways in which you might die, injure yourself, or otherwise come a cropper!
They’re also very helpful. Most dog poo bins just settle for a jaunty drawing of a dog out for a walk. Sheringham pours scorn on these misleading and confusing images. Why do that when you can actually show a dog having a crap? No room for misinterpretation there.
But it was a beautiful day. Looking further up the coast, we could see where Blakeney Point juts out into the North Sea, and the sunniness of the day was reflected in our mood.
Clearly, something had to be done. And we made the fateful decision to go to Cromer.
If my mum had known of this, she would have disowned me. She grew up in Sheringham you see, so I’m Not Allowed To Go To Cromer. It’s a bloody nightmare to navigate, it’s always windy and the seagulls are vicious. But Alistair wanted to go, and now that he was snotfree, I was happy to indulge him. Also, he was driving, so I didn’t really have a say in the matter. It took us about an hour to find a place to park (trust me, Cromer town centre is a fecking one way system nightmare) and we walked along the pier (or Croomer Pear as locals call it), and then back up to the prom. Hmm, this pub looks nice. Lunch? Yes.
I wasn’t really hungry after my mammoth breakfast at The Pigs, but we went in anyway. A lovely smiley blonde barmaid handed over some menus and we decided what to order. Alistair asked if we could order – Take a table and someone will be with you. So we did that. After twenty minutes, no one had come over. So Alistair nipped up to the bar again – Yep, John’ll be with you in a minute. So we waited, noticing that people who’d come in after us were ordering their food. Time passed. Now people who’d come in twenty minutes after us were being served their food.
I went up to the bar to order another drink. And chase up the elusive John. Yep, John would be with us shortly, return to your table! Waited. Waited… w-a-i-t-e-d… We had been in the pub for over an hour now. It was after two. On a weekday afternoon in November. In north Norfolk. Chances of many places still serving food at this hour? Slim. Alistair went up to the bar again, and was slightly more firm this time. Still no sign of John. Was he real? Or just on a very long fag break?
In addition to being embarrassingly prone to giggles when in a good mood, I also start finding things hysterically shouldershakingly funny when a disaster is unfolding. So I started titting about, singing ‘WHYYYYY are we WAITING?’ in loud, nasal tones. Alistair tried to ignore me. This amused me.
So I took a photo of him.
He ignored me harder. I took another photo of him, slightly closer this time.
He resolutely refused to acknowledge that he was aware of my presence. So I took another photo of him.
Yay! Success! Then I turned my attention to twitter. Changing my name to ‘Table 3 at...’, I began tweeting at the establishment we were sitting in. Passive aggressive, snidey little comments about how crap their service was, how bored we were, how rubbish they were… We really should have just cut our losses and left, found a Tesco and bought some sandwiches. But this felt like a battle, dammit! I wasn’t going to admit defeat. For whatever reason, they didn’t want to take our order and feed us in exchange for our money. I would not back down until I had paid them for the privilege of being pissed off and ignored.
The barmaid was out amongst the tables, taking orders from other customers. Other customers who had come in after us. The subtle approach clearly wasn’t working. I sprang to my feet as she passed ‘HEELLLLOOOO! HIIIIII THERE!!!’ Alistair, mortified at sitting next to this mad, hungry, woman, grabbed my arm and tried to pull me back into my chair. With the deftness of someone driven beyond endurance, I wriggled free and continued booming ‘WE ARE TABLE THREEEE! WE WOULD LIIIKE TO ORDER SOME FOOOOOD! WE’VE BEEN WAITING QUIIIITE SOME TIIIIME!’ Finally, finally, the barmaid came over. No apology for the delay of over an hour in taking our order. No explanation as to the continuing lack of John. She took our order (Ploughman's for me, burger for him), vanished.
I was beyond pissed off now. Going through their twitter account, I started replying to their tweets. Bandying around phrases like ‘tardy and inept tossers’. ‘Order your Sunday roast in time for Tuesday!’ ‘Coffee morning – take it up to bed with you!’ I didn’t care that I was behaving like a spectacular twat, I was finding myself hilarious. Every time another customer was served within less than five minutes, I remarked on it to the room at large. I was being such an utter brat, and I could not stop laughing about it. Something very liberating at being so narked that you no longer feel constrained by manners. Also, if you are me, something that will make you cry and whoop with laughter
With unprecedented punctuality, our food arrived forty minutes after ordering. Let’s just recap. A burger & chips, a Ploughman’s. I could pretty much rustle that up at home within twenty minutes, and I’m not a professional. My lunch was described thus: Selection of Cold Meats, Cheeses, Pickles. Sliced Apple, Red Lion Chutney, Chips, Coleslaw and Bread. Mmm. Yummy! Except… No apple. A few chips. One teeny tiny end slice of bread. No cold meat… but the unexpected bonus was a hot, freshly cooked chicken breast! Woo!
I looked at the wooden platter thingy, looked at Alistair, looked back at the plate, and then exploded into a paroxysm of giggles. I’m fairly sure I added my own ‘special relish’ of snot to the food before me. I was uncontrollable. There were NO WORDS. No words to describe just how funny I thought this situation was. Not only had we been in the pub for two hours now, but they had given me nothing like what I’d ordered. Everyone else around us was having the most lovely time, and we were like a little corner of catastrophe. I didn’t even think of asking just what the buggery fuck was going on. If I’d tried to send the food back, they probably would have sent out a cup-a-soup as a replacement. In August 2017.
Being British, of course, we ate it, made no complaint, and paid in full. But the thing that is still making me laugh, even now, five months later, having just discovered this unposted, lurking in my documents, is that the Red LionCromer have never replied to, or acknowledged in any way, any of my tweets. I'll give them a few more months. Wouldn't want to rush them...