On Sunday, we were unlucky enough to see an example of how badly wrong things can go in a pub which, for half the year, is a tourist destination and, for the other half, is a quiet little place in a more-or-less deserted town.
The pub in question is a bit eccentric — not rough, but characterful, and with a bit of history. When we entered, there were a group of regulars, well away after an afternoon’s boozing, sitting on stools around the bar.
Not long after we’d arrived, a German couple came in, lured by the promise of ‘good cooking with local ingredients’ and, in particular, sea bass. They were given a cosy candlelit booth in a private corner. The husband (dressed in the customary hunting jacket of a German abroad) asked directly but politely for the music to be turned down a bit. It was loud, and he had been directed to a seat under the speakers. Fair enough. The very professional barmaid/waitress did as he’d asked.
A little later, while the barmaid was in the kitchen, one of the regulars (let’s call him Bob) noticed that the music had been turned down and, swearing, shouted for it to be turned back up. “Is the f**king volume control broken?” It got turned back up.
The barmaid returned and immediately said to the landlady (who was sitting drinking with the regulars) that the people on table 10 had asked for the music to be turned down. It got turned down.
Bob went ballistic. “I drink here every day all year round and I want the music up. I don’t care what table 10 want.” He began to swear at the barmaid who got upset. The landlord and landlady did nothing. The barmaid tried to throw him out, without much success, or any support.
The Germans, thank God, seemed oblivious.
Oblivious, that is, until a drunk Bob came to loom over their table and have a word about their bad manners and how they’d ruined his fun. “If you don’t like it, why d’you come here!?” At this point, the landlady did intervene, guiding him away, and apologising half-heartedly to the tourists. It was embarrassing and awkward for everyone.
Of course, Bob had a point — during the long, cold winter, he and his friends keep the pub afloat. But, by letting him behave like this towards customers and staff, the owners of this pub are risking the loss of a lot more than Bob’s custom. What about the rest of this German tour party? Or anyone who ever asks the coach driver or tour guide for a recommendation of a pub in that particular town? Or asks us?
We certainly won’t be going back.