Tag Archives: restaurants

Alice in Wonderland Would be at Home Here

From tomorrow (Saturday 17th October), it becomes illegal for separate households to mix indoors (unless the household concerned is part of a bubble, in which case it is allowed). Households may also mix in Covid secure workplaces, although the government advises that those who can do so should work from home.

As someone who lives in the Greater London area, the above rules will impact me from Saturday 17th October.

I find the restrictions nonsensical. I can, from tomorrow still go into a pub or restaurant and be in the presence of other households (provided I remain 2 metres apart and wear a mask when not seated). However I can not meet friends in a pub or restaurant even if we are “social distancing”.

Yesterday evening I popped into my favourite local pub. It was relatively quiet and I chatted to a couple of customers (socially distanced from me) over a few pints. From Saturday 17th October I will still be able to talk to people in a pub and/or restaurant provided we remain socially distanced, and provided also that they are not my friends!

Again, I can not have friends or family round to my home, but my cleaner may, perfectly legally continue to clean my home provided that we observe Covid secure guidelines.

Now, my cleaner wears a mask and gloves whilst in my home and (when I last checked) my family and friends did not)! However, the fact remains that a cleaner or other tradesperson may continue to visit domestic premises, for the purposes of work, whilst family and friends may not do so (unless the household is part of a bubble).

I am sure that Alice (of Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass fame) would be at home in this crazy world we are currently inhabiting!

As I’ve said previously, whilst I accept that Covid-19 is a serious issue, I am not a supporter of bans on household mixing. I think that any true liberal should feel very queasy when police are empowered to fine and/or arrest households for socially mixing.

For anyone interested in reading about the Covid restrictions, please see https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1346946/can-workmen-come-to-the-house-cleaners-household-mixing-new-rules-tier-1-2-3-EVG.

Does he take sugar?

Yesterday evening, while out for a meal with my friend Brian, I was reminded of the former programme on BBC radio 4 entitled “Does he take sugar?” The programme derived it’s title from the question posed to the non-disabled companion of a disabled person, as to whether the person with a disability wanted sugar in his tea. The obvious point being that the question should have been directed to the disabled person (not to their companion), as by addressing the non-disabled individual the man/woman posing the question was patronising the disabled person.

To return to my meal yesterday evening. As a blind guide dog owner I have been eating in this restaurant for approximately 18 years. The food is (almost invariably good) and the service (usually excellent). Yesterday evening our waiter was attentive and the food arrived promptly and tasted as a good Indian curry should taste. However the waiter proceeded to address Brian (who is fully sighted/non-disabled) and asked “Is the dahl his”, “is the chicken his”.

The above was most odd as I have (as I said above) been eating in this restaurant for some 18 years or so. I sometimes pop into the place alone and enjoy a quiet meal and on these occasions the waiter in question has interacted with me in a civil and friendly way. It is, therefore most bizarre that yesterday evening he chose to basically ignore me and interact with my non-disabled friend.

To ignore a disabled person and interact with their companion is deeply disrespectful. It is, in effect treating the person with a disability as a non-person (as though they where incapable of thinking and acting independently). In the vast majority of cases those with disabilities are more than capable of answering for themselves and treating them as non-persons is deeply demeaning. There are, of course exceptions to this. For example a minority of people with very severe learning disabilities are not capable of making decisions for themselves and do need others to act and speak on their behalf. However many other people with learning difficulties do live independently and are capable of speaking for themselves and the assumption should always be that an individual is able to represent him/herself unless their exists strong evidence to the contrary.

Some people fear what they have not encountered and this may help to explain why they disregard the person who is disabled and choose instead to interact with their non-disabled companion. More education is needed to drive home the point that those who are disabled are persons in their own right and are possessed of thoughts, hopes and desires in the same way as are their non-disabled peers. I will, I feel sure encounter other incidents of this nature. It is deeply depressing and all I can do is keep my temper and politely request that the person doing the patronising please address me and not my non-disabled friend.


There But For The Grace Of

One of my favourite restaurants, the Thai Crystal, which is situated some 20 minutes walk from my home, was hit by a bus at 6:30 am on 23 September. Extensive damage was done to the front of the building but, fortunately the staff who live on the premises where uninjured, while the bus driver received only minor injuries. Had the accident taken place on a busy evening there is little doubt there could have been serious injuries or worse. I thank god (or fate) that the accident happened when it did.




There Is Nowt So Queer As Folk

Shortly before Christmas 2014 I stood at a busy bar waiting to be served. Time passed but no one seemed inclined to attend to my requirements. I turned to the gentleman standing next to me,

“Do you think they have noticed me?” I said.

“Everyone seems to want food. I don’t know why they can’t eat at home, that is what I do. You are different, being blind I mean” my companion said.


The above conversation intrigued me. Was my fellow pub goer some kind of puritan with a deep seated objection to people spending money on eating out when they could, perfectly well knock up a meal at home? Puritans generally object to the drinking of alcohol and as my new found acquaintance was imbibing the demon drink I dismissed the idea that he was a strict Puritan.

The idea that the gentleman might be the adherent of a form of extreme left-wing radicalism crossed my mind. Did he feel in the very depths of his being that it was wrong to spend money on luxuries such as eating out when there are people starving in the world? But if he did indeed adhere to such an extreme perspective why allow himself the “luxury” of a drink as alcohol is, surely not a necessity?

As I pondered such philosophical questions a barman approached and enquiring what I wanted proceeded to serve me. I never did get to the bottom of what precisely my new found friend had against people who choose to spend a convivial Sunday afternoon enjoying a roast in a pub rather than slaving over a hot stove. It just goes to prove, as is often remarked in the north of England that “there is nowt so queer as folk”.

By Command Of The Lord Chancellor

“By command of the Lord Chancellor, help the homeless”. The man stands there, in the train compartment bellowing out his command. Noone responds. “Help the homeless”, again the Scottish voice booms out on this London commuter train. Once more there is no response from the passengers on the way home to their warm apartments or, like me going to meet friends for a slap up meal, with a nice bottle of red wine in my favourite Indian restaurant.

The same journey, an earlier time.

“Ladies and gentlemen. I am sorry to disturb you but me and my friends need money to buy “The Big Issue” to sell. I wouldn’t usually ask but can anyone spare some change”. The same man, with the Scottish accent asking for money. On this (earlier) occasion there is the jingling of change as one or two commuters give money.

I am not the only person who has observed this gentleman on numerous occasions as he begs for money on the train as it wends it’s way from Victoria towards Crystal Palace. Noone believes his story about needing money for “The Big Issue”, we have seen and heard him before. However a sense of compassion has, hitherto moved some of us to give but, on this latest occasion the gentleman’s threatening manner illicits no charitable outpouring.

I wonder what this man’s story is? There but for the grace of god, chance or however one cares to frame it go you or I.

Christmas comes early with Kevin & Trigger!

Some pictures of my guide dog and I at my works Christmas dinner, at Chimes of Pimlico: http://www.chimes-of-pimlico.co.uk/

Trigger is the one holding the Jumbone, while I am hiding underneath the table!


Kevin with the Jumbone!


Kevin under the table (Sorry Trigger!)


Keep The Cat In The Bag

On Friday evening I was enjoying an excellent curry and a good bottle of red wine in the company of one of my oldest friends. While I never intentionally tune into other people’s conversations, on occasions one simply can not help doing so and Friday evening was a case in point.

“It isn’t her fault that her mother was a prostitute” a lady sitting with a group of people announced in a voice which carried across the restaurant.

“So will you use this in your next book?” my friend asked in a low tone.

“Its amazing what you overhear and, if I did use it no one would have their identity revealed” I replied.

As it happens neither my friend nor I where acquainted with the people in question and the statement quoted above, if used in a story would not in and of itself breech the privacy of the speaker unless of course I was acquainted with the histories of the individuals to whom the lady refered and I used this knowledge in a future plot. This would, of course be ethically wrong and has the potential to land me or any other writer in hot water of the legal kind where I or any other person to be so unethical as to use personal information without the explicit permission of those concerned.

Watch what you drink for when the wine flows it is amazing what people will let out of the bag!

Ring Ring

Mobile telephones are a mixed blessing. Being in my mid fourties I am old enough to remember the days prior to the invention of the mobile. I vividly recollect feeding ten pence coins into bulky metal phones in bright red telephone boxes and, as technology advanced inserting pre-paid phone cards. It is perhaps a human trait to look at the past through rose tinted spectacles, to become all dewy eyed about the red telephone boxes which for decades where a familiar sight on practically every street of significance in the UK. It is doubtless easy to forget entering a phone box only to find that the receiver had been wrenched off by vandals, the glass had been smashed or both events had coincided to make the phone box unusable.

All of the above is true. I’ve been in phone boxes in which the receiver had parted company with the wire securing it to the handset and I’ve shivered in those tiny cabins due to the glass having been smashed. Consequently I am well aware of the benefits of mobile telephones not least as a means of contacting family or friends when one is running unexpectedly late or in case of emergencies, however the mobile is surely one of the most overused inventions (do I mean abused)?

A couple of weeks ago the British media was full of how a check-out lady in Sainsburys (a leading UK supermarket) had refused to serve a customer due to the lady holding a conversation on her mobile while, at the same time interacting with the shop assistant. The customer subsequently complained to Sainsburys, received an apology and was compensated with Sainsbury’s shopping vouchers.

I don’t condone the actions of the check-out lady. I can however understand her intense annoyance at the rudeness (doubtless unintended) of the customer who instead of interacting with her chose instead to split her attention between the person on the other end of the line and the shop assistant.

When I’m out with friends I often turn my mobile off so I can concentrate on interacting with them which is after all the whole purpose of socialising with friends.

At home I’ll frequently allow the voicemail on my landline to take calls when I’m writing or sometimes simply relaxing. Occasionaly I’ll interrupt voicemail and speak with the caller but by no means always. Technology should be our servant but we are in danger of allowing it to become our master.

I’ll finish with an incident from my own life. Yesterday I was meeting a friend for a meal in a restaurant some 15 minutes walk from my home. My friend kept texting me to say that she had arrived, did I mind if we ate in another restaurant, actually the other place was closed so should we go to an Italian restaurant etc, etc! I suspect that had I not stopped to answer all of my friend’s texts I would have reached the restaurant at least 10 minutes earlier than I in fact did! In the days before mobiles we would likely as not have met without mishap and much quicker as we wouldn’t have been messing around texting one another.

For the article regarding the incident in the supermarket please see http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2353581/Sainsburys-customer-shocked-checkout-assistant-refuses-serve-mobile.html