by Black Sheep, 6th February 2022
Why it’s high time we stopped apologising
If ever you’ve wondered where the bitter miseries of life hang out, well look no further than Tripadvisor.
Confirmation that the travel website is the natural habitat of nitpickers and the last-chance saloon of losers with little to say and nobody to say it to came last week when visitor lenlenlena (trip ‘advisors’ rarely use their real names) posted a review of their recent trip to Rhos-on-Sea’s Coast Cafe - one of the finest cafes in North Wales (I’ve been, and it is).
“Called in today to get two takeaway teas.... what an experience, not in a good way,” wrote lenlenlena. “Tea was, well, hot water and milk. Little sign a tea bag had been in. All for a sum of £3.40 for two teas. Having a laugh. Appalling teas… First time and last time to this cafe.’
Now, in these delicate times we find ourselves living in, when poor souls of a certain generation can find offence in anything from children’s books to confectionary, the assumed response to such matters is to suck it up, apologise and invite the customer back to the establishment where a right royal welcome will await together with a free afternoon tea by way of compensation for such a traumatic experience.
So it’s hats off to the cafe owner, Darren Randle, who had other ideas.
“Jesus, I’ve never heard such a crock of s***,” he replied, to the virtual cheers of culinary proprietors everywhere. “People like me and my staff work bloody hard but obviously can't please a wet wipe like you. Hope you find what you're looking for in your life and stop taking your troubles out on hard working businesses!!”
To which I can only add... what a bloody hero!
There’s a lyric in the Jam song A Town Called Malice (don’t start - I’m not suggesting Rhos-on-Sea is malicious), that goes: stop apologising for the things you’ve never done. And that’s probably more apt today than it was in 1982.
Rather than enter into reasoned debate, everybody seems far too quick to say sorry these days. Sorry for hurting your feelings. Sorry for not realising what was acceptable last week isn’t acceptable now. Sorry for not knowing what the hell’s going on in your head.
I don’t know about you, but £3.40 for two teas (it was actually £3.60, but the reviewer was clearly struggling with the detail) sounds like a bargain to me. And you know, you can always ask for a strong one if that’s the way you like it.
The incident reminded me of an agricultural show I attended with Welsh Border Life many moons ago, back when it was still called Country & Border Life. On the cover of the latest issue was a reference to celebrated vegan and then Beatle wife Heather Mills-McCartney, together with an image of a dairy cow and a headline previewing a feature on milk.
It was a busy day on the stand, with hundreds of copies of magazines passing through our hands, subscriptions being bought and questions from eager readers being taken. It was hectic and exhausting, but everything was going well. Until a rather haughty woman marched up and demanded to know what Ms Mills-McCartney was doing on the cover of the magazine.
Spotting a potential conflict, one of our directors stepped forward and explained that it was to do with a feature inside which debated the merits or otherwise of milk in our diet.
"Well I think it’s a disgrace that you’re giving that woman publicity like that," our visitor snapped. "You should be supporting our farmers."
Keeping his patience, our director then explained that the article bore equal coverage for both sides of the argument - with quotes from farmers and the vegan lobby - and that it was a balanced and fair piece of journalism.
“Well I don’t agree,” the woman ranted. “I think it’s disgraceful and you should be ashamed of yourselves.”
By now, our director was becoming slightly restless. “Have you read the article?” he asked.
“I don’t need to read it,” the woman insisted.
“Well f**k off then,” came the reply.
And do you know what? She did.
Different times, of course.