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BOB SHIELDS.

Some local authorities are toying with the idea of rewarding "model citizenship" You could win a TV set if you pay your council tax on time, or cash if you conserve water. There's a bounty of pounds 1000 if you "name and shame" bad tenants.

I can think of better ways to reward "model citizens" Give the money to model citizens who worked hard and paid their taxes and national insurance on time every week for a working lifetime. Reward them with a decent pension.

A WOMAN was successfully sued by a top Scots restaurant last week for pounds 500 - because she didn't have enough friends.

Well, that's not strictly true. Actually, she's got hundreds of friends. She's probably got more auld acquaintances than Burns Night.

Her problem was that she didn't have enough of them in the right place at the right time.

That place was Glasgow's Mojo eaterie, And the time was her 21st birthday.

The young lady booked a party of 25, but only 15 turned up. And irate Mojo owner Greg McLeod pursued her to the small claims court where he won the cost of 10 portions of duck with garlic mash, 10 chocolate brownies, 10 coffees and a good gargle of the French giggling juice.

Restaurateurs across the land are not just toasting this victory - they're pan frying it in a jus of glee and serving it on a confit of self righteousness.

The verdict was "absolutely right" says the manageress of another Glasgow nosherie.

No it wasn't. The verdict was as right as a fork.

If I took 15 people to a restaurant - and the owner thanked me for my custom by suing me - I'd be just a wee bit off in the Stilton department. In fact, I'd be furious cooked very rare.

The restaurant in question is reported to have asked for a deposit and didn't get one. Yet it still accepted the booking.

And I'm sure the lady in question didn't over- estimate her popularity deliberately. Some folk just didn't turn up.

Eating out used to be a fairly simple business. You picked a place you fancied then keeked through the window to see if it was busy.

It wasn't infallible, but I don't remember going hungry too often.

Thanks to programmes like Ready Steady Floyd and Can't Delia, Won't Masterchef, the food trade might have raised standards -but it's also inflated its own ego like a souffl. If these new-wave eating places want to go down the road of deposits, taking credit card numbers and the small claims court, fine.

But they've got to expect a little customer backlash.

If a restaurant wants to see the colour of my dosh for a meal before it's eaten, then am I not entitled so see the colour of my nosh before it's cooked?

That's right: "I'd like a steak please - but can I see it before you cook it?"

Even better, why not take your deposit to the restaurant personally and ask to see the kitchen - preferably at about 8.30pm on a Saturday night - before you book.

Celebrated food arsonist Nick Nairn says: "No-shows are an enormous problem."

Perhaps patrons of his Glasgow restaurant Nairns should apply the same principle to the owner.

Next time you book, try asking if the man whose name is above the door will actually be cooking your dinner.

Sorry, Nick, but "no-shows" cut both ways.

But that doesn't mean customers have carte- blanche to do as they please either.

We trust our restauranteurs to be responsible with our food, its preparation and the cleanliness of their equipment.

They are entitled to trust responsible customers will show up - on time - in the correct number.

Of course, there will always be the irresponsible - both cook and customer.

But trust is something you'll never win at the small claims court.

SCIENTISTS are developing a "thinking dustbin". Microchip sensors will tell you when you've thrown away something that can be recycled.

They're also working on the "thinking fridge" where microchips will tell you when it's time to order another pint of milk.

Why do they never think of more practical things such as the "thinking fag packet" that bleeps when you're down to your last one?

Or the "thinking Bacardi bottle" that senses you're blootered and won't let you open it?

But best of all is the possibility of "intelligent furniture".

When you sit in your "thinking chair", it will tell you what happened at home during the day and who called on the telephone.

I fear scientists are a bit late with this one. Most of us have got "thinking furniture" already.

Only we call it "the wife".

Tennis owes her .. but no-one courted Billie

I NEVER did like Billie Jean King. How could any adolescent boy when there was Chris Evert's dress to peer down every Wimbledon?

But TV's Reputations documentary showed Billie as a tough old broad who bucked the system and established the modern women's tennis circuit. Yet nobody liked her.

I know it's sad and sexist ... but it's true. If Billie hadn't had legs like a net post and a face like a melted racquet cover, she'd have retired a 25, married a billionaire and raised a brood of Chrissie Everts.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Shields, Bob
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 13, 1998
Words:876
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