The art of eccentricity

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THE LACK of courtesy and service in some of the business establishments on the Costa is appalling.

But there is a rudeness that offends and a rudeness that can sometimes be regarded as amusing and eccentric behaviour, and it reminded me recently of some pub landlords I have encountered in the UK.

One landlord in Falmouth had a hatred of Londoners, but nobody seemed to know the reason why.

An acquaintance of mine had a friend visit him from London and took him for a meal at the establishment in question and because of his obvious cockney accent, he was warned about engaging the publican in conversation.

After they had eaten, mine host made his way over to ask if everything had been to their satisfaction, at which point the Londoner, in spite of his friend’s advice, asked why it was that he disliked people from that city so much.

The place went deathly quiet as the landlord, a large man, rested his meaty arms on the table, and almost nose to nose, hissed, “Do you see this”, pointing to his bald head.

“Your lot were evacuated here during the war and brought their head lice with ‘em. I had nice curly hair in those days, but I had to have it shaved off and it never grew back.  Does that answer your question?”

Another publican of my acquaintance in Fowey, had a particular aversion to anyone he termed ‘La-di-da’.   He had one of those pie warmers on the counter, the ones with a slowly revolving rack, and when a customer hailed him thus: “I say my man, are those pasties hot?” back came the reply: “They ought t’be boy, they’ve bin in there for three weeks!”

Years later in a neighbouring village in Suffolk, there was a character that had become infamous with a Basil Fawlty type reputation. Nevertheless people would come from miles around to eat and drink at his establishment, a very pretty olde worlde inn.

We took some friends one evening who had never visited the pub, then having perused the menu one of them asked what the sirloin steak was like.

Having just served an adjoining table, the landlord pirouetted and without a word, whipped the plate away from under the startled diner’s nose and plonked it down on our table.  “Like that” he said smoothly, before returning the plate to the disbelieving customer.

Real characters you see, can get away with it.

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