The fourth time I heard this fatuous bullshit during my recent visit to Sheffield, I was ready to do some serious harm to the twat behind the counter.
Last weekend I went away with my three children to the historic city of Sheffield. The primary purpose of the visit was for my eldest daughter to swim in the British National Swimming Championships, the secondary was for us to have a short break together, and see if we couldn’t build a better relationship.
The team building has been going quite well. When their mother died we found that, although we had been acquainted for a while, we didn’t really know each other very well at all. Let me be clear, I am talking mainly about my relationship with them, the condition of the relationships between them may have been better understood, but from the outside it seemed to be adversarial and combative without much love going on. It’s possible I am wrong about that though.
So, in the interests of building a new and better family, we have been spending time together. No mobile phones allowed when we are out together, we talk to each other. There is no picking or attacking permitted, every defense mechanism can be put aside. Open minds and hearts is the aim of the game, creating a loving environment where we can all be happy.
There are scars from the arbitrary parenting of my late wife. The youngest has been spoiled, she didn’t know the word ‘No’. She was totally in control of her habitat, a lovely, sweet girl when she gets her own way, she turns quite nasty when things go against her. There are sulks, aggression, mean comments, and this is nothing to do with grief, it is just her nature, but she is recovering. With the help of her family, she is being coaxed into the real world.
The middle one is eleven years old now. She was physically beaten by her mother, mainly because she doesn’t seem to be anchored in this world very well and forgets stuff. She is very fearful of retribution, and covers up mistakes. It’s tough because she is also lazy and likes to leave work for others to do, so making sure she doesn’t get away with that behaviour without setting off the fear reaction is a delicate job. Anyone that knows me will say I am not the most delicate person, and that is part of the learning for me. This situation is making us all grow, that’s the beauty of this lesson my wife has left us with.
The eldest is rising to the challenge. She has never liked to be questioned about anything she does, wanting autonomy from the youngest age. When it came to nappy changing time she liked to nominate which of us was going to do the job, tantrums would ensue if we dared to challenge. She has dominated her sisters, expecting to have primacy in all matters, the new way requires equality and this is difficult. Her love for her sisters is starting to show through the toughness, although the rod of iron is sometimes implied. She witnessed her mother’s brand of love, God help her, and that will take some turning around.
The one thing that underpins my approach to this whole thing is consistency. Any rules are applied universally or they get binned, the same thing happens every time. This has begun to make things happen differently, and we all feel more relaxed. Rome wasn’t built in a day, it was made up over some time, and this process will also take some time. There is no end goal, it is work in progress. It is my sincere hope that it will continue for their lifetimes.
Anyway, back to the beginning. When we arrived at our hotel, we were hungry. The lady at reception told us there was a pub which had a restaurant, and it was right next door to the hotel, we went there as soon as we could dump our bags. Being a Sunday there was a buffet carvery, it was understaffed, there was a queue which was stationary. We opted for other options from the menu. Payment was required up front, I attempted to pay in cash. Cash was not a problem, unlike at other establishments which have now lost my custom forever, no, the problem was the brand new, bank issued, £50 note. The worm behind the counter took the thing as if I had handed him a live snake, looked at it for a few moments, looked at me, and said he couldn’t accept a fifty. If I had wanted change for a £50 note with a purchase of a small packet of sweets, maybe I would understand, if it was a dubious looking item, an old paper note, perhaps. This was a plastic note, there were all the correct features that proved it was genuine, it was freshly issued from the bank, and I was attempting to pay a bill totalling £42. No, he said, he couldn’t take it because it was company policy not to take fifties. After I let him know I wasn’t impressed and didn’t believe his lies, and paid with a card, he walked away and made a comment to another lowlife that ‘worked’ in the place, she looked past him at me and smirked. Cunt. Tripadvisor was created for people like that. Although not many people will care, and many will sympathise with the raspberry-faced northern wanker, I left a warts and all review which included the thirty minute wait for our simple order, and the rudeness of the other staff member I was unfortunate enough to deal with in that place. Many of the issues could have been ignored seeming petty, but in the interests of full disclosure, I included them all in the review.
As I wrote at the start, this same thing happened three more times during the trip, in three different places. The litany was the same each time, it’s company policy. I am fairly sure that it isn’t the intention of whoever owns the company to get customers offside, and every place where I encountered that attitude will never get my money again. Obviously, I am only one person and others will still patronise such places, but I am being true to myself.
The other theme I encountered was the ‘no cash’ thing. We went for breakfast to a cafe that was highly recommended on some website, they refused cash altogether. This is becoming common, and it is only for the convenience of the proprietors, there is no other reason. It seems to be hipsters, with their fucking beards, tattoos, and fucking nose rings, who run these places. Encouraging state control and tyranny with their fucking expediency. One of my favourite local cafes has gone this way and I will not go there anymore. If Sarah is reading this (unlikely, I know) she should know it is safe to go there again! Admittedly, the cafe in question is not a hipster joint, but sleepwalking into a Marxist state is unforgiveable in any thinking person. There is no neutral place in this struggle.
Sheffield is a nice, smallish city. There are remnants of the industrial past to be seen everywhere but, from most points in the city, it is possible to see views beyond the urban streets, of rolling hills rising with valleys between. It feels as if the city has been placed into a bowl where it nestles comfortably. We went and ate sandwiches in a lovely park, a huge open space on a hill, where it was possible to forget the urban surroundings. Areas of woodland, a nice little playground, complemented by the just warm enough weather, a gentle breeze coming up the hill making it perfect. The kids played together, looking really happy, forgetting their recent bereavement completely for a time. Such islands of respite are golden, I was close to tears watching them messing around. The food we ate was purchased at Tesco where, I am happy to report, they still accept cash and will break a £50 note. Hipster cafe owners and other idiots take note of a successful business that believes their motto ‘every little helps’, and won’t turn away a single penny in revenue.
Someone informed me, that for my daughter to even be invited to the British National Swimming Championships, she was in the top one percent in her age group. Unfortunately, on the day, she didn’t have the best swim. Possibly the traveling, maybe nerves because of the hugeness of the event, she didn’t make the final. She swam well though, and her not reaching the final allowed us to set off home four hours earlier, for which I was grateful.
We agreed that the trip was a success. Despite the slightly horrible hotel, the minor upsets over payment, the fact that one place charged £4.15 for a coffee, another £3.50, the slight disappointment about the swimming, we had a nice time. We ate some great food, laughed together, and became a little closer as a family. All of us enjoyed Sheffield. When I suggested, half in jest, moving there, the reaction was fairly positive. There is space, beautiful countryside, houses that are cheap enough to buy outright, a fact that might offset the completely overpriced coffee, and a swimming club that produces champions.
We will see how things develop , but for now we are here and it’s a nice place to be.