I originally posted this back in September 2013. The passage of time is relentless, but some things, and people, don’t ever seem to change.
Gee I’m a bit peckish. I never had time for breakfast this morning, and it’s been meeting after meeting since I got up, and I’ve got Question Time to deal with later in the day. Time to recharge.
Well I have an hour before the next meeting, and this café looks pleasant enough.
Righto, that’s my order sorted. Now to wait, and what better way to while away the hours than to examine one’s ministerial papers?
Goodness me, that was quick. Wait. What’s that?
No, this isn’t good enough. I didn’t order that. I didn’t order any food at all. I just came here for the coffee.
What do you mean? How can I have ordered the Big Brunch Fry-up? I haven’t even seen the menu. How can I order a meal if I haven’t even seen the menu? Just the coffee!
Oh, that? So there’s a piece of card on the table on which are printed the names of various meal items. So what of it? I didn’t even notice it there. I did not know of the existence of this menu until you showed it to me just now.
Well, yes, I may have actually held the menu in my hands, if what you say is true. I don’t recall, but if that’s what you say you saw, then I admit I may have picked the menu up. But that doesn’t mean I knew the menu existed. I may have thought I was pawing something else, like an important ministerial paper, or a paper towel, or perhaps a real estate brochure. I expect that my attention would have been drawn to more important matters as I handled it, if indeed I even touched it. As a busy minister I have a lot on my plate, although I certainly never ordered that particular plate.
But I never read the menu, I never ordered anything from it, and I won’t pay for a meal I never asked for!
No, I certainly don’t recall holding the menu up close to my eyes, and I’m sure I would remember asking you what the Big Brunch Fry-up contained. This is your word against mine, and I won’t sit here and allow my good name to be impugned. These allegations are baseless and without any factual foundation whatsoever. I did not order this meal!
Well, what proof do you have? Oh, you have a piece of paper on which you took down the order, and which says “Table Six: Big Brunch Fry-up. Hold mushrooms, eggs poached.” Well what does that prove? All that proves is that you took an order down, and so what if this just happens to be Table Six? It’s clear that what we are dealing with here is a catalogue of mistakes made by mostly junior staff, and I’m confident that it doesn’t reflect badly on me in any way.
You say you’re sure I asked for the Big Brunch Fry-up, but I wonder what your real motives are. Are they malicious? Would you by chance be a member of the Green Party? Are you a party activist? You have an anti-business-agenda look about you, young lady, and I don’t like it at all.
Not that I’ve got anything against green issues. I like to think of myself as a blue green, which makes your claim that I ordered a greasy fry-up all the more risible. Had I ordered any food I would have chosen a light chicken salad, although, and let me be very clear about this, I have no recollection of ordering any food, and if any food was ordered it was entirely due to a junior member of staff at this establishment misunderstanding what was a very clear request just for coffee.
Your notes may well suggest that I ordered the Big Brunch Fry-up, but that’s just one interpretation, and with respect I think some people here may be guilty of dancing on the head of a pin in order to score political points. I came here just for coffee, not to be interrogated by aggressive party activists.
No, this isn’t acceptable. Please summon the manager. Oh, you are the manager? Well then, I think a review of the behaviour of all staff involved in this matter is called for. There are obviously problems with the processes your staff have followed, and I am confident that any review will show that I acted entirely appropriately.
So you have CCTV footage of me ordering something from the menu? Just hang on a moment here. I never claimed that I didn’t ask for food. No no no! If you look back at my statements in this matter you will see that I have been quite clear all along that I never denied asking for food. What I have made very clear from the beginning was that I did not order the Big Brunch Fry-up.
Oh, the camera has a microphone and my words can be heard? Well, you see, that doesn’t prove that I ordered the Big Brunch Fry-up. It wasn’t an order as such, was it? No, it was a request. I said “May I please have the Big Brunch Fry-up, and can you please hold the mushrooms?” How could anyone possibly frame such a polite and reasonable request for food as an order? I may be a minister with considerable legal powers, but I do not have the power of command in your own establishment. No, it was a request, not an order, a request that you kindly fulfilled.
Now let’s hear no more of this. I have no time for this nonsense. I have a non-existent housing crisis to grapple with. Good day, Madam!