Thursday, April 05, 2007

Fish 'n' chips

It has taken me literally years to come to terms with Bank Holidays and to consider them to be a Good Thing. This is as a result of the trauma inflicted during a number of school holidays and my first university long vacation. The horror invariably reached a crescendo on August Bank Holiday Monday, but Good Friday was always the start.

The village has a surfeit of chip shops for its size. Three of them have café areas, or, as one where I worked liked to say, ‘fish restaurants’. It was a decent enough size and large numbers of people could be squeezed in due to strategic table positioning. But on a Bank Holiday, it was never big enough and from 11am, a queue started to snake its way along the street.

I would eye the queue with trepidation through the window. The worst moment – worse even than when the door was unlocked and they spilled in like bargain hunters on the first day of the Harrods sale – was when the granny buses went by. The grannies, complete with freshly set hair and a fancy for fish and chips on their day trip to the seaside, would nudge each other and point to the café. If they caught your eye, they would grin and wave. There was no escape.

Bus trips on top of the Bank Holiday hordes could easily induce a panic attack in a waitress of a nervous disposition. “Ethel doesn’t want peas, pet,” Ethel’s mate would say. Of course, when you have 30-odd orders for cod and chips (mushy peas came as standard – yuck) it’s easy to forget and blandly dollop bright green goo onto Ethel’s plate. Ethel, obviously, is upset and doesn’t want to pay for peas. You take her plate away and slide the fish and chips on to a fresh one. If the fish drops to the floor during this exercise, you pick it up and put it back on. You feel guilty for hating Ethel when she leaves you a tip.

Bank holidays were invariably sweaty, steamy, greasy, leg and arm-achingly awful. As the years passed, I got over it - until last Easter, when I almost had a relapse. Living in the bad place was just too close for comfort to the epicentre; the scent of stale fat pervaded the air and people filled the pavement, four abreast. I forced my car out of the alleyway, through the crowds, into a non-existent gap in the traffic – and fled...

12 comments:

Brom said...

Geeting far too late to comment sensibly (hey why change a habit of a lifetime). Fish n Chips are great, so are mushy peas, and gravy as well!! yes!

Thanks for the link!. Nite!

Anonymous said...

Hey!! Was it you that was asking me about the government grants website? well anyway, here it is... Grants I'm headed back to Cali this weekend, gotta get warm! :)

Gill said...

mushy peas are the sperm of satan!

I still have an aversion to loudly patterned carpets after hoovering acres of them in the Sheraton at Heathrow in the seventies. When most people say they were scared by something in THE SHINING they mean the evil twins, or the dead wrinkled woman in the bath or Jack Nicholson with an axe. For me it was the carpets....

Mopsa said...

Gill, you have completely ruined my previous pleasure in the good old mushy pea. Will I ever be able to look them in the eye again? Ain't a girl allowed the odd processed nasty with so much home-produced stuff filling the fridge and freezer 24/7?

mutterings and meanderings said...

Brom - gravy yes but mushy peas are so very wrong on all sorts of levels ...

Anon, I have no idea who you are...

Gill and Mopsa - mushy peas are evil evil evil ....

Arthur Clewley said...

look out gill, the axeminster cometh.

M&M, I think I saw you on one of those secret filming exposé type documentries about catering staff . I've told Ethel where to find you now, in plaice no-one can hear you scream...

Eurodog said...

Belgium is the best place for chips and yes we eat them with mayonnaise.
Frites avec mayonnaise.
And of course moules/frites and mayonnaise.
The concept of mushy peas is unknown here.

The Grocer said...

Oh your so right, I need the Bank Holiday business but the car loads of troglodytes from SE Northumberland make it hell. A rare day off tomorrow before getting back to serving ice cream to ungrateful oiks who can't pronounce mascarpone.

Wisewebwoman said...

Thanks for your comments on my "Courtesans" piece, I loved your "Bookworm" segment, I revisit books also, "Pride and Prejudice" and "I Capture the Castle" comes to mind" - trusted old friends. And the older the book the better, I love to think of the readers who went before and left some of their own essence on the pages.
(And oh dear, I love mushy peas.....)

mutterings and meanderings said...

Arthurs, please don't tell Ethel ...

Eurodog, I had some Dutch friends who ate chips with mayo - itwas rather nice ...

Grocer, you should refuse to serve them if they can't pronounce it!

Hello and welcome wisewebwoman.

Karen said...

M&M I am sorry to say that I partook of fish n chips on Good Friday. Very yummy they were too as Crosby's in Whitehaven is one of the best places to go (plug plug plug).

Mushy peas - bleurgh!

Mayo on chips is divine!!

Drunk Mummy said...

Hi M&M,
I have eaten mushy peas at every available opportunity since I heard the tale of 'man of the people' Peter Mandelson doing the pre-election rounds in a Hartlepool chip shop, and asking for some of "the guacamole."