Picture the scene. Sunday lunchtime in a lovely country pub, tables outside in the sun, charming views across the village green, cool music in the bar. Perfect. We go inside hoping they can feed us, having just driven back from Lancashire where we’d been to yet another friend’s fantastic 60th birthday party, and we are pleased to find that yes, they have a table for two available immediately, which is a very good thing as we’d been too hung over to eat breakfast and we are now STARVING.
We’ve been to this pub before, it has good food, trendy interior, friendly staff and very importantly, no riff-raff. Now don’t take issue with me here, I like a bit of riff-raff when it suits me, and in fact I possess many riff-raffish tendencies myself, as you know, but sometimes you just want to chill, don’t you? So no screaming babies, no kids roaring around pretending to be Spiderman or whoever, no blissfully unaware parents ignoring the little swine while they themselves enjoy their own meal, no football on Sky TV. Just a quietly sophisticated English country gastro-pub. Nice.
So we get our drinks and sit down, order our free range, organic, chef-cooked Sunday lunch and sink gratefully back into the soft brown leather chairs to wait. What a perfect way to round off our lovely weekend. I even take off my shoe and play footsie with my husband under the table, such is my total contentment. He is so relaxed he even lets me. Wonderful.
And then, in they come. One by one I clock the immaculate Sloaney clothes, the Berkin bags (tan of course, it IS summer after all darling), the perfectly ironed slacks, cashmere sweaters casually knotted around the shoulders, shirt collars turned up – yes, dear friends, it’s the invasion of the Hooray Henries and Henriettas.
What is it about some posh folk that makes them think they are the only people in the world who matter? That it’s OK to talk at a million decibels louder than anyone else? Or to continually lean back on the chair of a total stranger (aka my husband) who is trying to enjoy his lunch, and keep elbowing his head because they are standing TOO BLOODY CLOSE, whilst “entertaining” the whole bar with tales of how they’ve been out shooting and had “blown the bloody head right orf” a partridge, or skinned a rabbit with their sodding penknife. Big deal. I’m as interested as the next person (probably a bit more so, to be honest) in other people’s conversations but not when it totally puts a stop to everyone else’s within a five mile radius. And actually, Tarquin, I don’t really want to hear how annoying it is that your au pair won’t clean windows or how your holiday in Tuscany was such a bore this year because Jemima didn't like the heat, and by the looks on their faces neither do the rest of the pub either. The fact that the well behaved children of the family next to us are looking a bit worried about the rabbit skinning story seems to have escaped you. Which upsets me, quite a lot.
We eat the rest of our lunch in silence – well, I say silence but what I really mean is that the H.H’s are so brayingly loud that husband and I get fed up with lip-reading in order to communicate between ourselves, so decide to take our coffee outside. How bloody rude are they? The waitress comes out to ask if we’d like anything else and I resist the temptation to order a twelve-bore shotgun and a spare box of ammo to take back inside with me. That would sort the buggers out, and show them how the partridge must have felt at the same time.
We pay the bill and walk to our car which is now surrounded by open top Mercs, BMWs and Audi’s. Jealous, I am not. Furious, I am. My husband tells me not to over-react but they’ve spoiled our good time, and if I could rub a magic lamp at this very moment, you know what I’d wish for?
A particularly scarey chapter of Hell’s Angels to turn up, starving hungry and looking for trouble.