Mind your manners

posted on: Monday, 29 July 2013

The Bitchy Resting Face phenomenon is taking Britain by storm

The view from my room at Mike and Rich's in Brighton, not a drunken reveller in sight

After another night of bottles getting smashed on the street outside my East London window and people shouting at all hours, I decided it was time to take trip to the seaside to capture some peace and zen. Where better than Brighton?

The gods smiled on me when I found Mike and Rich's chic home via Airbnb.  Not only was their house gorgeous (Rich is an interior designer), the bed linen high quality, the pillows firm and soft, with a bathroom featuring a huge bath, but when I looked outside my window there was only a peaceful courtyard. Not a police siren or drunken brawl to be heard.

'That's London!' my hosts chimed when I explained the reason for my visit. Mike and Rich were incredibly charming and at their place I slept better than I had in weeks. This may have something to do with the fact that Mike spends 30 minutes pressing the freshly laundered bed linen to perfection. I know because I saw him do it for their next guests. Heaven.

Feeling great, I decided to take my zen self out to a restaurant in Kemp Town, the alternative part of town. Think organics, gay pride, and old cottages done up by Londoners looking for a sea change. And that's where I experienced someone at the opposite of the zen scale from myself: a well dressed, mid-30s, professional woman out to dinner with a friend. Have you seen the Bitchy Resting Face YouTube clip? Let's just say this instantly came to mind.

She sat down on the couch banquette next to me, then, before her friend could sit down in the chair opposite, she had sprung up into it. 'That seat's too low,' she explained. (Impressive reflexes if a little selfish, I thought.)

When selecting her meal she asked for a lamb dish, but the waitress explained that there was a variation that night and it was being made with pork.  'Oh,' she said inhaling sharply. 'That's not as exciting then is it? You'll have to come back in a minute.'
'Useless,' she hissed to her dining partner, rolling her eyes. (Is lamb exciting? I thought.)

Wine was brought over to her table and she was poured a little to try. I couldn't help stifling a giggle as she made a show of her tasting technique while the sommelier waited for her verdict. 'It's lovely,' she said. (Really? I thought.)
No, not really: 'It's too sweet isn't it? I'm not happy with it. We should get something else,' she said.

Little by little, my zen was fading and I was getting annoyed. I took some deep breaths and visualised my happy place. That being, obviously, Mike and Rich's house.

'Excuse me! Can I be a pain?' She said grabbing hold of a passing waitress. 'I just don't like where we've been seated. I feel too cramped. Could we please move to that table?' (You cannot be serious! I thought looking at the spacious area surrounding her.)

The maitre'd came out to assist and explain that as they were fully booked, all the tables were accounted for.

'Oh, no problem. It's worth asking,' she giggled, that is until the maitre'd was out of earshot. Then she threw up her hands and pronounced, 'I just can't enjoy myself here!' (Lady, neither can I, said my inner voice.)

 And I got up, thanked the wait staff and thought even in chilled out Brighton you can't fully escape bad manners.

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