No matter what the circumstance, in Britain you can guarantee we will rally round one of the below:
- A proper brew or a sophisticated coffee (dependant if you’re from the ‘North’ or the ‘South’ – but lets save that conversation for another day)
- The weather
It therefore came as no surprise that for our department’s ‘Team Building Day’ they got in the most knowledgeable and experienced event planner to decide where the group should rest and water after a morning of ‘team building’. That person was unfortunately too busy trying to walk in a straight line, so they roped me in.
I will be the first to admit that I’m no connoisseur of the grain-based beverage. In fact it took me several years to accept that Sainsburys Basics Wine (which comes in a plastic bottle) is not a classy drink.
I will also acknowledge that try as much as I may to keep my composure, this is the face I pull when taking a sip of someone’s “really nice” larger:
There’s just no hiding it.
However, whilst I don’t know my Carlsberg from my Peroni – they’re the same thing right? – I do know how to track things down using the internet. (Note how I said ‘things’ there, give me five minutes and I bet I can find that picture of you.) This in mind I somehow managed to produce a selection of public houses my colleagues and I could frequent this Friday.
One of the extensive requirements for this pub was parking. Because posh people back in the day were so inconsiderate, the historic property we are visiting in the morning is located on a vast estate, no where near any alcohol selling venues. (I know right, how very rude of them.) This in mind, I found myself using Google Maps’ Street View function to establish the local scenery. In the space of half an hour I was reminded a) how interesting and exciting it is to fly through streets (I felt like I was on the magic carpet ride at Disney all over again) but b) how incredibly tedious it is when the man decides he wants to go to a residential street and yet c) how intrusive it can actually be. During my theoretical travels I was actually able to go inside one of the pubs. I won’t name the pub or chain in question, for name sake I’ll say it’s called ‘Blue Queene’. Going into the Blue Queene was interesting, a sort of “come to this pub and all going well you could be using these very toilets, minus Jeff.” In my department there is often a lot of discussion of the ‘visitor experience’ and I think nothing best sums up the experience of the Blue Queene’s clientele better than this interior photo:
I think it’s a bizarre on every level. I mean if you’re out walking your dog and a Google van whizzes by it’s over in a second, but can you imagine sitting down and someone walks in to photo the ‘contents’? In a dark, 1984, sort of twist, the satirical comedy The Revolution Will Be Televised predicted this years ago:
Me being me, I thought up all manner of theoretical conversations the couple could be having in this otherwise empty pub.
“Sandra, we really need to talk about our divorce.”
“Try to act normal, as if there aren’t weird men watching us”
“So, we’ve been here half an hour and your still have your coat on…any reason for that?”
“Hey, can you take another shot but this time with my arm over the chair, so it looks like I’m really engaged in conversation?”
“To be honest I don’t care how I look, as long as you get my Star Wars bag in the shot. I want people to see this photo and think ‘wow, he’s living the dream'”
“Can you make sure we’re centre of the photo? I would hate to be overshadowed by some kind of cheap gambling machine.”
After thinking up all these imaginary conversations which in truth are 100 times more interesting than the pub itself I decided that, owing to lack of parking and location, the Blue Queene was probably not the best pub to go to. (FYI Nailsea on a grey day is not somewhere to book a package holiday.)
Luckily I was able to source a suitable alterative. The inner monologue went like this:
“Ok, interesting. It’s a fifteen minute drive from the historic property, located on the outskirts of Bristol, near the Marina. Plenty of parking, looks modern in the images, very stylish. Sure, it’s a Wetherspoons but it offers good value for money which, on our budget, is a definite box ticker. Yeah, looks good, I’ll recommend it to the department manager now.”
Email winged off, I started focusing on actual work (you know, the stuff I’m paid to do). About an hour later I think to myself “I wonder if you can go inside this place as well?” I had a spare five minutes so I got up the old Street View on Google Maps and searched the postcode.
So this is where, under my recommendation, eighteen of us are going:
Take note, at 13:30 on Friday 7th October the department is going to either be sat in a stylish bistro, praising my choice in restaurants, or they’re going to be standing on scrub land discussing how best to kill me.
It’s good to know I have a trusting team.