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OPINION: Sorry seemed to be the easiest word on my trip to the south west

PUBLISHED: 18:33 11 December 2019 | UPDATED: 18:33 11 December 2019

David Clayton said the apologies came all too easy during a recent meal in a hotel restuarant

David Clayton said the apologies came all too easy during a recent meal in a hotel restuarant

Iakov Filimonov

A stay in a hotel in the south west was almost on the Fawlty Towers level for poor old David Clayton

Of late, much has been made of saying "Sorry." Sir Elton had it right with his 1976 hit Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word. Mind you, I've just been on a "Sorry" overload and the word itself seems a little devalued, to me at least.

After a long journey to the south west, my wife and I opted to eat in the hotel bar, where we were staying, rather than step out to find an eatery. We perused the menu. She went for a steak (medium) and I was rather taken with 'Catch of the Day'. "What is it?" I enquired of the waitress. "Oh, I don't know, the chef just said egg noodles."

A bizarre answer, to say the least. We chuckled at the image of a chef trying to catch hold of some wayward noodles. "Sorry," she said, "I'll go and find out." She returned after a few minutes. It was salmon with some stir fry veg. I was happy with that.

I don't know about you, but I have an innate, albeit indeterminate time by which, the ordered food should arrive. We went well past that. However, a hotel bar is fine for people-watching with a glass of wine. The food arrived. A piece of salmon on the aforementioned noodles but with prawns. I don't eat prawns. Prawns weren't mentioned. Had they been, I wouldn't have chosen the dish. "Sorry," said the embarrassed waitress, "You'd like the dish without prawns?" "Well I wasn't expecting them," I replied. "Sorry, "she said, again. The dish returned to the kitchen. My wife tucked into her steak. I waited. A manager came over. "Sorry sir, the chef has run out of noodles would you like the salmon with potatoes and vegetables? I said that would be fine. He proffered another selection from his repertoire of "Sorrys."

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My wife discovered her steak was very much on the rare side of medium and parts of it were on the rare side of rare, but persevered and finished her meal. As a waitress came to clear her plate, she looked perplexed as to where mine was. We explained that I had yet to see it, at least on a permanent basis. "Oh, I'm sorry, I'll go and see what's happening."

The manager himself, eventually brought my salmon with a further selection of "Sorrys." Miraculously, more noodles had been found into which some potatoes had been added. We suspected it was possibly the original noodles, sans prawns. It might even have been the same piece of salmon making a comeback.

"So sorry," said the manger elevating the apology level, realising I'd now be eating on my own, "I'll do something with the bill, you'll only pay 50 percent."

I tucked in. The potatoes were, to put it politely, al dente, and the salmon was drained of all succulence while it had presumably kept warm somewhere in the kitchen. Being British and not wanting to make a fuss, I consoled myself that the mushroom soup starter had been quite nice. I tried a few mouthfuls of salmon and noodles and reluctantly downed my knife and fork.

We caught the attention of a passing waitress. "Sorry," I said, "This is really awful." A few more "Sorrys" came my way and the manager returned to our table. I didn't quite match the Fawlty Towers, Waldorf Salad level of indignation, but the 50 per cent reduction quickly rose to 100 per cent with offers of anything on the menu. My wife intervened with a pithy, "We'd rather not risk it!"

I sustained myself on the packets of biscuits in the bedroom. We checked out the next morning. "How was your stay?" asked the charming receptionist. Oh dear, I wish she hadn't. I gave her a brief but colourful reprise of our evening. She listened with a well-trained, fixed smile, as receptionists are prone to do.

"Oh dear," she said, "I am sorry."

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