Richard Ord: ‘I’m not complaining...’

Fish fingers
Fish fingers
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COMPLAINING is not my strong suit. Don’t get me wrong, I can moan with the best of them, but actually confronting someone with a complaint, no matter how genuine, is just not my thing.

I leave my wife to do the complaining.

She constantly amazes me with her complaining prowess. She’s a natural-born complainer. Not of the moaning variety, but the “this is not good enough, I want to see the manager” variety. And she almost always wins.

She took the kids to the cinema the other day. They all went to see Cars 2. There wasn’t much change out of £30 for the jaunt but all seemed to go pretty well.

The children enjoyed the movie, as did she. The only minor disturbance was the appearance of a moth at the side of the screen. It flew about for a few minutes before settling on the wall.

As she left the theatre at the end of the movie, one of the attendants asked if she enjoyed the show.

“Yes,” she said, “but some of it was spoiled by a moth on the screen.”

She then added: “Can we have some vouchers as compensation?”

The cheek of the woman.

“Did he hit you?”I asked.

“No, he gave us our money back.”

I wouldn’t have said a thing. If a dog had urinated on the screen and barked throughout the performance I’d probably have kept my mouth shut.

My wife gets a fist-full of fivers for a moth!

She repeated the feat the other day.

We went out for Sunday dinner with the kids. She opted for the “vegetable roast”.

The kids went for beef and I went for pork. The vegetables were served separately.

There weren’t enough carrots. She spoke to the waitress who was apologetic and brought over another bowl of carrots.

My wife was hungry. She nicked a couple of slices of pork off my plate. She then devoured her meal.

As we were finishing off, my wife remarked that her “vegetable roast” wasn’t really a roast, but a plate of cooked vegetables.

“I was expecting something like a nut roast,” she said. “But this was a Sunday dinner without meat. I’m going to speak to the manager.”

“But you ate everything!” I protested. “Even half of mine. You’ll get us chucked out.”

As she went to the bar to complain, I did what all supportive husbands do and said: “C’mon kids” and ushered them quickly out of the pub to the car.

Result? She got her money back.

While you’re reading this you’re probably thinking I’m a coward who hates confrontation. And you’d be close. I think of myself as just an unlucky complainer.

Once when eating at a restaurant in Seahouses, I pointed out that the fish fingers served to my son contained black bits. The waitress took them away and I ordered another meal for the boy. All was fine.

The bill came to around £70 but the bill included a charge for the returned fish fingers.

What to do? If it had been my wife complaining, the charge would have been waived and we’d have left with a few £5-off vouchers for our next meal.

It was only the small matter of few quid so I pointed out her error and asked the waitress to knock the fingers off the bill.

She said she’d speak to the manager.

She returned. “I’m sorry, you have to pay the full bill. You were served the fish fingers.”

Do I pay, or do the unthinkable and make a stand? I made a stand. “I’d like to speak to the manager,” I said.

Out he came and I explained how we’d ordered several meals but the fish fingers were off, and we wouldn’t be paying for them.

He was having none of it. “Pay,” he said, “or I’ll get the police.”

Ah, I thought, he’s calling my bluff. “I’m happy to pay for everything else,” I said, “but I’m not paying for the fish fingers. If you have to get the police then get them. But I’m not budging.” A defiant speech – Churchillian, some might say.

He called the police.

They arrived and I was ushered into a backroom, where I was interrogated over the fish fingers. I escaped with a verbal warning.

The only saving grace was I never did pay for the fish fingers.

But, for obvious reasons, I now leave the complaining to the wife. Fish Finger-Gate haunts me to this day.