"Obviously I know this isn't your fault -"
Blonde Girl nods her head -
"Could I speak to the manager?"
Probably relieved to be given an excuse to leave the bolshy woman in purple tights, Blonde Girl nods. I remain, resolutely calm, at the bar. After a minute or so a man in a pink tie approaches me.
"Hello, can I help you?" Pink Tie asks.
"Yes - I wanted to know what the situation with the food is".
He bows his head slightly. "Basically, I've not had a member of staff turn in so we're unable to serve food until after 5.30".
Everything is as I expected. I feel a little flash of sympathy for Pink Tie and what is to come. Not enough though to say thank you and walk away.
"Well, that's a bit of a problem. My group came in just before 4 o'clock and were told that you'd be serving food at 4.30. Obviously had we known that we were going to have to wait another hour and a half just to order food we wouldn't have stayed here and bought drinks".
Pink Tie moves to interject but I have not finished.
"And what's more, after I came and asked about food someone in our group was served chips ten minutes later".
I am particularly mad about the chips. I take these things personally.
"Yes, that was a mistake, it shouldn't have happened".
"But it did".
Pink Tie's head drops again. "Yes".
I smile at him. I am, I know from experience, being resolutely, annoyingly, reasonable.
"I can't arrange for food, but I'm happy to give anyone in your group who was going to order food a free drink".
I smile properly for the first time, mission accomplished.
"Under the circumstances, thank you. I'll just see what they want".
Pink Tie starts to realise that he might just have walked into my trap. "Anything but, erm, bottles".
"Fine". I smile again. This has been almost too easy.
I walk past the bar and back to the area where we'd settled forty minutes earlier. There are expectant faces.
"No food until 5.30 but -" I pause a little wanting to drag out my moment of triumph "there is a free drink for anyone who was going to order food".
There is laughter. "Who was going to order?"
All ten people currently seated put their hands up.
"We'd better make a list".
A few minutes later I hand the list, scribbled in History Boy's writing on the back of a page from the Independent, over to Pink Tie. He visibly blanches.
"Were all these buying food?"
I am prepared. "Yes." I gesture to the corner we have colonised. "There's 20 people in my group, so 11 is only 55% wanting food".
I am not sure exactly why a percentage should solve this matter but it seems to do the trick. I realise that I am relishing just how much of an annoyance I am whilst being safe in the knowledge that I am morally well within my rights. Eighteen months of being the person members of the public complain to may have reduced my already somewhat limited capacity to accept sub-standard customer service. The WYP may have created a monster.
Pink Tie's head droops further when he totals up the bill. I smile as sweetly as I can muster. I suspect it makes him hate me more.
Eventually I settle down with my drink.
"What happens at 5.30?"
"Well, we repeat the process". I pause for a second as a thought occurs to me. "Only, someone has to go order my food because if I do it you know that they're going to spit in it".