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Ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in shit.

I'm not going to rant about how much I hate Christmas just yet, all y'all are going to have plenty of that to read over the festive period. These are just the preliminaries, the bone-crushing detail I'll spare you until December itself, brace yourselves.

No, this is the month of faxing menus, posting menus, and dealing with phone calls from my currently most hated caste of people. Company secretaries.

"It states here that you have a roast sea bass as the fish option on your menu"

(Quick side note, due to the sheer volume of custom we get over Christmas everything is set menu. Five starters, five mains. That's it, for the sake of the poor dim chefs who have to order the stock that's the way it must be. We'll stretch a point for vegetarians, as is only reasonable, but beyond that, forget it, anyway, back to the conversation)

"That's right yeah, Sea Bass Brodeto, roasted with garlic and parsley"

"Mr Brinslow doesn't like Sea Bass" and with that she expects the conversation to be over, I, like the good little waiter I am, will quiver in fear at the thought of upsetting her boss, whom I will never see again anyway and instantly alter the menu, for him.

"Sorry about that"

"He'd like you to do Sole meuniere" Oh would he? That's OK then, in the middle of a sweat-drenched, drink-fuelled saturday rush I will turn round to the hulking man mountain at the stove, who is trying very hard to remember at which point of being cooked the twenty-five or so steak on his grill currently are (because god help you if someone orders well-done and it comes out medium well, I don't understand precisely what happens, but I think it means that ther first-born instantly contracts HIV, or something, I do know that it means I'm going to be dealing with some bleating, sheep-eyed arsehole who's used to bullying his staff and can't fully understand why I couldn't care less about how he thinks a steak should come because of course! Not only do you own a fleet of forklift trucks but you really appreciate food. That's why you ordered your steak well done, isn't it?) I'll turn round to this caffeine-crazed bodybuilder and suggest politely that they clear a space in the entrails and carcasses that are littering the kitchen, take time out from the hundred of people who are baying for food and prepare a lovely, delicate sauce meuniere. And the chef will see nothing wrong with that. At all.

"We're not going to do Sole Meuniere" For a variety of reasons, not just the excellent one outline above, but also because we're not going to order a single bloody sole in just to satisfy this man who'll will not see until next Christmas anyway (obviously if you are a regular all normal rules are suspended, you can have whatever the hell you like, thanks for regularly paying my wages)

"But he wants Sole Meuniere" And I think, I'm sorry, I don't want to be angry at you, you are going to have to go and break the news to this tinpot Branson you work for that all is not perfect in his ordered world, maybe he'll consider the failure to be yours. I can't actually bring myself to care.

Well, sometimes I think that, most of the time the hectoring tone of voice gets to me and I take an inordinate amount of pleasure in saying no, he can't have that or no, booked solid means we have no tables ("Bur Mr Brinslow wants Friday night" - fine, then you'll all be sitting in the car park) and no, I'm nnot changing the cabaret act for that night because your boss likes somebody else THEY'VE BEEN BOOKED FOR A FUCKING YEAR. I'm sorry, company secretaries of the world, I know you are merely a conduit for the whims of your capricious paymasters, but stop trying to take it out on me, because it won't work. Trust me.

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