Thursday evening saw your correspondent in Birmingham, staying overnight so as to be present on time at a morning meeting. I stayed in a pleasant hotel, but its situation – at the intersection of two dual carriageways on the ring round – left something to be desired. I decided that I (or rather, the institution who would get the bill) couldn’t afford the “world -famous” cuisine in the hotel (which world was not specified) so my choice was limited to the establishments adjacent to the hotel. The Indian would have been my first choice, but the place was dead, and the plastic tables under strip lighting reminiscent of school dining halls. I walked past McDonald’s on principle (and I’m vegetarian too) which left an establishment claiming to offer authentic Mexican cuisine.
This place – Chiquito? I can’t remember – is a chain, with those really sophisticated laminated menus, but I was hungry, and this was available and cheap. My English teacher’s hackles rose (where are your hackles, by the way?) when I saw that the place was, apparently “Famous for Fajita’s”. I was tempted to ask “Fajita’s what?” but knew that I would be met with incomprehension. Do you think there’s any mileage in a concert aimed at making the redundant apostrophe history? Thought not.
I was served by the efficient Sally (“I’m Sally and I’ll be your server tonight”) who took my order and asked if I wanted a drink. I did, but not from the cocktail list she proferred. Here, in the same kid-friendly laminate, was a list of staggeringly awful drinks, all with wonderfully “amusing” names. What startled me, though, since this was the kind of place where parents brought kids for birthday treats, was the names of these concoctions. “The sloe comfortable screw” might be explained away, but “Sex on the Beach”? If you wanted two of these, do you ask for “Two sexes on the beach” or “Two sex on the beaches”? The latter has a Churchillian ring… The most startling concoction was a ghastly collision of vodka, Baileys and various dairy products going by the name of the Screaming Orgasm. This is obviously designed to be hilarious to the alcopop generation, but rather like the FCUK label, if it was funny the first time (and that’s debatable) it sure isn’t by the three hundredth time. I imagine to the people that drink these things, it quickly becomes just a name – “oh go on then, I’ll have another screaming orgasm” – but I did wonder how the parents at the table near me where a seven year old was being brought a birthday cake would explain it. “No Britney, for the last time, you’re not old enough to have a screaming orgasm”…
Mexican wave of nausea by Dr Rob Spence is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.