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Friday, 8 November 2019

Oliver Cromwell, Charles I and the Wetherspoon App

I am very seducible, which, unfortunately, is not the same as being seductive. The Gasman called (not the Postman) and seduced us into buy ‘Hive’, which allows you to control temperature and lights without leaving your chair. The smartphone is truly smart. Worse, Echo. Dot’s Alexa came with the deal, and she is even more seductive. So, you get the drift then, you understand where I’m coming from when I confess I find the Wetherspoons app another irresistible temptation.

No more queuing and jostling at the bar, pretending politeness to those around you while all the time calculating who’s justifiably next, and at the same time maintaining a gimlet stare on the barman or woman.  No, instead of all that you sit and tap an instruction on your phone and your drink or food mysteriously appears at your table. You anticipate when you might next want a drink and tap again. It’s like having your mouth attached to a beer tap, your wallet to a Hoover. At least you think twice having to fight your way back to the bar. 

I was thinking of this whilst staring at the ceiling of the Kings Head in Monmouth—a Wetherspoons pub, and wondered what past generations would have thought of such luxury - or perhaps witchcraft.

What would Charles 1st have thought when he popped in from Raglan Castle in 1645, or indeed the ardent Royalist Mayor of Monmouth in 1675 when he commissioned the ceiling and the various royalist portraits that dominate one of the snugs. Who needs servants when you have a smartphone or indeed the Wetherspoon App?

Pictures of Charles II and Charles I

And for those without smartphones, plenty of books

One wonders what Oliver Cromwell would have done with a smartphone, for while Charles drank in the King’s Head in 1645, his nemesis, Cromwell,  drank in the Queen’s Head just over the road during roughly the same period. In fact Cromwell stayed there several times during the Civil War and made good use of his time by destroying Monmouth Castle.

The Queens HeadI

The Kings Head in Agincourt Square

It's hard to believe that in 1835 there were 15 pubs and inns in Agincourt Square. As the rhyme once went: A gin court here, a gin court there, no wonder they call it A gin Court Square. Poetry has moved on since then; perhaps an C18th Rap. 

For generations The King’s Head was a major coaching inn, which gives me the excuse of incorporating this photo of a nearby lane. Who wouldn’t want some hot punch after this? And what wondrous witchcraft would  the Wetherspoon app  appear to the tired and weary traveller.

So visit Monmouth, with or without the Wetherspoon app and enjoy good beer in both pubs. The Queens Head has no app but it does have several ghosts, some ‘secret’ rooms, and you can stand on the spot where a reckless cavalier was shot dead when trying to assassinate Cromwell. No pictures unfortunately.



Maria Zannini said...

I really hate those apps. Even worse are the tabletop ordering machines. I tolerate them at fast food joints, but if you go through the trouble of pretending you're a nice restaurant with cloth napkins at least have a real life server.

The servers at most places are so disgruntled and annoyed with the public they make eating out a dreary experience.

Still, we've had exceptional wait staff that made our meals an absolute joy. What made them amazing is that they honestly cared that you enjoyed your meal. They made sure your glass was never empty and that you never had to ask for bread, sauces or butter. They were on top of their game.

For such service we always tipped well above normal. That kind of service deserves a good tip. I have no compulsion to tip someone for bringing me food ordered by an app. Part of a great dining experience is having attentive staff.

Mike Keyton said...

Maria, I've been spared the table ordering machine, and I've yet to install the Wetherspoon app for my phone, because it also involves simultaneously paying by phone and I'm a suspicious luddite when it comes to that. Even os, I can see the merit of no longer fighting to be served at a busy bar