Sunday, March 14, 2010

Bowl Half-Empty

To West Stow Country Park just outside Bury St Eds with the kids. 'Englands First Village' we are told. This is where, on good days, a reenacted Anglo Saxon settlement is in full swing. Today was..well , half swing. A smattering of sack-clothed `peasants' and a poorly attended pre-medieval cooking demonstration (hog, anyone?) was all there was to see.

But our kids are too young for all that. We came for the recently refreshed outdoor play equipment. My two year old slammed his finger in the car door then banged his head wincingly hard on a slide but, as kids do, he yelled for 30 seconds... then carried on regardless.

After an hour both kids were finally worn out and we went to the onsite cafe, run, it appeared, by the local council. The idea - my idea - was to fork out fifteen quid to avoid the lunchtime shift at home - an hour of prepping, cooking , cajoling and cleaning.

If only life was so simple. Self service meant literally that. The only thing not up to yourself were the portions. My soup (Minestrone) was served up in one of those naff cooking pot-style bowls. But it looked a decent size. It arrived just over half full.

Id like to say I immediately took issue and requested more for my three quid but of course I didnt and instead fumed as the slit-mouthed catering assistant plonked down my pot before spraying the next table with a foul-smelling substance and cleaning it.

What it would have cost to fill the bloody thing I dont know. Seven pence? Nine? The small price of my contentment. And they didnt have the wit to realise that 40 year old dads who have spent an hour playing with kids or examining flint daggers need a decent lunch. Not a Weight-Watchers one. Particularly as he is normally the one paying.

I am, I realise already turning into a grumpy middle aged bloke. Only five years ago his sort of thing made me laugh. Now I want cry - or kill.

Only the day before I was chatting to my charity CEO friend Hannah Eyres who is a fellow Bolton fan . "You're a real glass half-empty-man arent you?" she mused as I gloomed about relegation, despite a thumping four-nil home win. Ten years my junior, and a member of the sunny Generation Y (I am a depressive X) Hannah always sees the bright side. Which, I tell her, you need if you are a Bolton fan.

I am ending the weekend with my children in a three way exercise in `cooperation' as we try, together, to fill the bird feeder with peanuts. I cannot convince my daughter that we dont need a kilo of nuts on the floor before we start to fill the small hanging dispenser. Wilf keeps trying to sit on the bloody thing, nearly breaking it. Then, out of of the blue, she lamps her brother full in the face (he was, it has to be said,asking for it). Tears all round. Wife appears. I am told to stop texting. I obey.

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