When a busy bank holiday involves feral children underfoot, how do you take control? No details spared - The Pub landlady tells all.
Bank holidays should be water off a duck's back to a seasoned pro like meself. I know what to expect.
But this latest one started off a bit weirdly to say the least. By half past 12, there was still no sign of a single punter.
A bank holiday without punters is indeed a worrying thought, especially in light of the extra staff you've drafted in, all swanning about on double time, not to mention the copious amount of prep stacked up in fridges bursting at the seams.
Ever the optimist, I retreated to the kitchen to inform Chef that this was it, this was actually the year we were going down.
“Don't be ridiculous,” said Chef. “They'll all be lined up at the bottom of the hill under starters orders so they can all arrive conveniently at exactly the same time.”
Much as it irks me to say it, Chef is usually right.
Come 12.45pm, a bulging stampede was squeezing through the very small doorway to the very small bar where the not very small barman was doing his best to control the rabble.
After the rush, our attention was taken by a bloodcurdling scream followed by a loud clattering of two sets of tiny feet making their way to the only remaining unoccupied table.
Mummy and Dada followed shortly behind, Dada grabbing at the copy of the Times left out for the convenience of the customers, (most of whom would secretly prefer the Mail).
The tiny feet somehow made a beeline for the service point nearby, heading for my new and beloved online booking platform.
Chubby hands were already pulling at the little wooden drawer that contains all those little helpful items needed to get you through service.
By now, Dada had retreated into the safety of the Times, head and upper body completely obscured to the pandemonium around. Mummy had also taken refuge in a large glass of the liquid variety.
Meanwhile, the Artful Dodger child was air rowing across the very crowded bar floor, arms flailing and legs akimbo, a clatter of silverware displaced by unchecked limbs scattered in his wake.
The thought of the bank holiday cutlery shortage and the inevitable re-polishing before further usage did not fill me with joy.
On the plus side I'd been thinking the floor could do with a buff up for ages.
It was time to play the Hot Soup Card.
The Hot Soup Card is the penultimate and usually most effective piece of artillery in the front of house battalion of weaponry.
A useful tool deployed only as a last resort, akin to a yellow card bookable offence, the one before relations break down completely and you red card the punters, ask them to leave and wave goodbye to the spend.
A small alerting cough signalled the commencement of operations and I was poised for action.
“AHEM… this soup is VERY HOT indeed.”
The Hot Soup Card is ever more effective if accompanied by the elevation of the two soup plates high above the head for added drama.
“I would hate for you to get burnt.”
Beam. It worked. Mummy made a running rugby tackle for the Artful Dodger and attempted strapping into the highchair.
Several sets of sympathetic eyes half smiled at me in empathy and in validation of the successful outcome of the Hot Soup Card.
If there's anything that gets the punters on your side, even if they've been waiting a bit for their grub, it's badly behaved children and a parent with no control.
In a weird way it creates a feeling of camaraderie, a keep the home fires burning kind of feel.
- For the full blog and more tales of what it's really like to run a pub, read the Pub Landlady's blog here.