Thursday, 30 June 2011

Not 'Basement' behaviour.

So, can you believe ‘E’ and myself have been running ‘The Montpelier Basement’ supper club in our home since October last year? errr what’s that? *counts slowly on fingers* eight frigging months! Unbelievable. Surprisingly for us, (as I’ve just counted the dates up), tomorrow’s ‘Basement’ will be our 23rd. Therefore I thought it was high time that I wrote about it a bit, and you know…. spill my guts in a sharing fashion.

First of all, utilising all my fingers, and some of my toes, I can tell you that we’ve had nearly 400 people pass through our doors and eat our food. Incredibly, considering that number, nearly all of these people have been absolutely amazing individuals. They’ve been no problem whatsoever, they’ve loved what we’re doing and in return, we’ve loved them dearly. *blows copious air kisses, mwah mwah fashion*

But, it hasn’t been all rainbows, cuddles and snuggums. A couple of people have, quite frankly, been very bad guests. But, only a couple, out of nearly 400, that’s actually quite amazing. Nevertheless these few individuals have blighted our ‘Basement’ with their presence, and we curse their collective memories.

The most ghastly of our few rubbish guests descended on our subterranean lair a few months back. Lets call her ‘Sharon’, (errr because that’s actually her name). ‘Shazza’ was basically the supper club guest from hell.
She came on her own, which isn’t unusual in itself, lots of people do and that’s fine. She was in her late 50’s I guess, and she seemed a little bit pissed when she arrived. She ended up sitting on a table with 4 other people who were in their early twenties. It wasn’t long before we realised that she was completely dominating the whole table’s conversation. She was one of those awful people, with a loud voice (slurred) and an opinion on pretty much everything, all of it backed up with a winding longwinded story. The rest of the table were sitting there stunned, in a complete verbal vacuum. Mere puppets as Shazza held court in the most awful fashion.

But, our guests are adults, they can deal with this…. Thought I naively, until ‘E’ came into the kitchen aghast, and told me that ‘Shaz’ was now regaling her new dining companions with a cheery tale about her friend who had apparently committed suicide. As you can imagine, they quite literally looked like someone had died. Four pairs of eyes pleading for help and framed by expressions of exquisite misery greeted me, as I was physically ejected by ‘E’ out of the kitchen and into the dining room with orders to ‘change the subject’.

I decided the best approach was to engage Sharon in conversation, and draw her away from the others so they could best make their escape. Coming, as I do, from Essex, I have much experience of chatting to drunkards and felt assured that I could deal with this confidently. Try as I might, I can’t remember exactly what I said, or what Sharon said in response. I can only conclude that part of my memory has been blotted out, in what is no doubt some kind of primal brain defence mechanism which I am confident will see me awaking in years to come bathed in sweat and screaming.

But, the main thing is, I took one for the team. I changed the subject.

The evening progressed, and Shazza hadn’t seemed to cause any more real trouble. Apart from provoking the odd look from other guests. She’d taken to moving around the room, sitting at the other tables chatting, and helping herself to wine. Eventually at the arse end of the evening, myself, ‘E’ and two other women who happened to be young Doctors were left drinking and chatting. They were lovely, extremely funny and quite obviously had enjoyed a great evening, which made us happy. Shazza was still floating around, and by this time was steaming drunk. She offered to ‘help with the washing up’. We politely declined. She looked restless. A couple of minutes later, I looked around and realised she’d wandered into the empty kitchen. As I got up to she where she’d got to, she came stumbling out mumbling incoherently. The Doctors, bless em, had at this point realised what a problem Shazza was and whispered that they’d take her with them when they left.

I could only admire their skill, obviously honed to perfection in dealing with troublesome patients as they expertly shepherded our ghastly guest, cheerfully crying ‘C’mon Shazza, you’re coming with us’. Somewhat surprisingly she obediently accompanied them up the stairs to the front door.
As the unlikely trio departed into the night, we relaxed and breathed a sigh of relief. Immediately resolving that Sharon would never be coming to ‘The Basement’ again.

But my sorry tale doesn’t end there. The next day, whilst tidying up the wreckage in the kitchen, I found an envelope stuffed behind the radio. It was Shazzer’s payment envelope. Confused, I ripped it open. Instead of leaving the suggested donation of £25, she’d left £15, and hidden it. This despite raving how good the evening and the food was, necking a load of leftover wine and ruining the evening for her entire table with her complete boorishness.
Shazza, you’re a piece of work. If I ever see you again, it will be far too soon.To all our guests that night who may have been mentally scarred. We're truly sorry.

No one else has even come close to Shazza for sheer awfulness. In fact, as I said previously, we’ve been extremely lucky that nearly all save for a tiny minority have been an absolute pleasure welcome into our home and cook for. We love you all ‘Basementeers’.

So that’s our worst ever supper club guest.
I’d be interested to hear what’s the worst behaviour you’ve witnessed at a supper club, or even a restaurant for that matter.
Go on share.

PS: If you fancy coming along to a future ‘Basement’ (No Shazza – we promise – drop us an email at


Food Urchin said...

I've got a sneaky feeling you've left something out here my friend, exactly how or what did you take for the team.

Great post and heres to many more Basement stories. Have no real bad guest stories to regale (just one snotty guest so far). No for the really horrendous stories, well that would have to include me and I'm not telling

Unknown said...

great post... one of these days i'll make my way over... until then, congrats on the healthy supperclub and may you be blessed with many more to come ! (my bad dinner guest stories always end up with me and my brother fighting and there are too many of those stories to lay down here, so never invite us both anywhere, I guess is the moral..

miss south said...

Was she a Bristolian? Because I know a Sharon *just* like her based not far from me in Sarf Lahdahn. If she's moving freely from county to county, something should be done...

I second Food Urchin. I suspect something is a tad reserved here about as to how you 'tamed' Shazza.

If we book a place, do we get hear what it is?

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Great post, Dan, and, er, painfully amusing story ;) Sounds like you and the docs handled Shazza as well as anyone could have done. How hideous for you, though.

Going With My Gut said...

YIKES. My mate Goz and I are still total noobs to this whole supperclub thing. Luckily in the 2 suppers so far everyone's been lovely. Am sure the house odds will catch up with us soon though!


James R said...

We had an absolute wanker book a table for four and then turn up with just his missus. I think he was called Danny...yeah, Danny. He writes a blog, too. Food Urchin or something. Total nonsense.

Bistro Becs said...

Loved this post Dan, really entertaining and can just imagine you guys wincing.
Planning my next visit to Bristol shortly and am desperate to tie it in with a trip to the Basement and bring my brother along too, loved it last time and the menus I keep receiving sound SO tempting. Keep up the good work and congrats for keeping it going so long :-)

Sara said...

Bonjour mon frere,

When are you going to invite me to one of your supper clubs? I'm still waiting for the promised London one.

Shazza sounds like great fun; you can't put a price on entertainment like that. Congratulations on such a successful venture, never envisaged it would be such a huge success. I'm very proud of you (well a little bit).

Mwah mwah

Shazza said...

Crikey I thought we'd made a real connection Dan... I'll pop a tenner in the post X

Sarah said...

Another fun post, Dan. I really feel for you and E. What could you have done? If you'd tried to get her out she might have started wielding a hachoir or something. The mind boggles! Still, it made for interesting reading!

Keep up the good work!

Sarah and the Goats

Dan said...

Food Urchin - Not leaving anything out mate, I started asking her what she thought of it, and she started rambling about supperclubs she'd been to in New York and Berlin...and *yawn*....I got fed up and left her to get on with it. But the main thing is, she stopped talking about death. And that's a result in a dinner party conversation.

Dom - Thanks. Look forward to seeing you at 'The Basement' some point in the future...just don't bring your brother ok?

Miss South - Sadly yes, Shazza is a Bristolian...but perhaps she has a twin in London (God, what a horrible thought)...or perhaps she travels reguarly, and if so - I quite agree, the authorities should be informed or sumfink. If you book a place, we'll possibly tell you our 'other stories'...*mysterious*

Aforkfulofspaghetti - Thanks very much. I guess it's nice to have an amusing anecdote out of it. (But don't come back Shazza - ever! ok?)

Going with my Gut - 99.95% of people who come to supperclubs are amazing and out to have a brilliant time. Every now and again, a complete knob will slip through - but that's life I guess. Lets hope you don't encounter a shazza anytime soon ;)

James R - I've encountered this complete and utter wanker myself. And yes agreed, he's an absolute social nightmare. Something should be done about him. Nonsense, Nonsense, NONSENSE!

Bistro Becs - Thanks. We'd love to see you at the 'Basement' again soon!

Sara - Bonjour ma souer. The London one keeps being put back, but it will happen. Besides, you don't need an invite silly, just come down and let me know when and we can arrange something.
Shazza was bloody horrendous, but kind of entertaining. Thanks for your lovely comments, I am indeed pride inducing. Yeah. Mwah Mwah x

Shazza - How the hell did you find me? The court order says 10 meters and no online contact for crissake! does your probation officer know you have access to a computer?

Sarah - Thanks you very much. What the hell is a hachoir? it sounds terrifying! Shazza flailing around wielding an unidentified object....I'll never sleep again.

The Ample Cook said...

Oh Dan, what a nightmare. Sounds as if you handled her very well. And as for under-paying, what a cow!

You and Elly are doing brilliantly - wished we lived nearer :)

Neil Rankin said...

I reckon I could be worse, but she definitely sets a high bar.

Unknown said...

Sounds harrowing, I can imagine the awkwardness, esp when this person is in your house!

Unknown said...

Dan this post had me in hysterics - glad to hear most of your supper club guests are NOT like this lady.

Dan said...

The Ample Cook - We tried! Yeah the under-paying really pissed us off, as it was so sly. If you're ever in Bristol....

Neil - I reckon you could be worse too mate. No argument there. But right now, Shazza is the one to beat.

Louis - I know, it's a bit strange as it's you're house, so you expect people to behave...but it comes with the supper club territory I guess.

Gourmet Chick - hahahaha NO ONE is like Shazza. Glad I made you laugh :)

Graphic Foodie said...

Brilliant. You're bound to come across one every now and then. Hope I can make it to the Basement one of these days!

Dan said...

Graphic Foodie - Yeah, the odds are against everyone being lovely. Just glad people like Shazza are such a rare occurrence. We'd absolutely love to see you at 'The Basement' one of these days Fran.