Ah Mr Fawlty

My little bliss Trishy and I have shared a lifetime of adventures. We have worked together, lived together and often partied together. One hot summer of fun we misbehaved our way through our respective roles as barman and waitress, at the salubrious Greenacres Guest House and Restaurant. Greenacres…. picture Fawlty Towers mixed with…… actually just picture Fawlty Towers.

Tony our boss was Mr Faulty, Sybil was played simultaneously by his wife Jan and mother Pat. Trishy was masterful as Polly, and I must say I made quite a plausible Manuel. My ensemble of Dad’s wedding suit, white shirt and black clip on bow tie went a long way to ensuring the role of Manuel was mine. Playing a clumsy klutz, with a limited ability to obey instruction came quite naturally to yours truly. Walk on parts were played by our poor unsuspecting customers and fellow staff. Tony’s father Herb dithered his way through the role of the Major and long returning residents played the part of the dottery spinsters, and difficult guests to a tee.

Recently returned from my great European adventure, my hospitality experience was basically zero. Of course, one could count my short stint as nightclub promoter and party animal at an open-air bar on Ios, a Greek island jewel in the midst of the Mediterranean Sea. My payment may have been in ouzo but what fun we had. From three sad customers sitting at a bar to a seething dancefloor of svelte, suntanned bods dancing under a star splattered sky.

But I digress, back to work. I was a little anxious of my first shift and was mellowing out with my friends, as was the habit in our coastal town at the time. Suddenly dad appeared, he had gotten a call for me to start early and traipsed across the bush path to pass on the message. Our little shack Casablanca was devoid of any form of communication, no phone, no telly, no radio…. Oh, what bliss.

How the lads laughed as I transformed from languid layabout to dress suited hospitality newbie. My first gig, a wedding. Piece of cake, I thought. Being fairly adept at getting a roomful of people plastered, I had landed on my feet. My size ten clumsy feet. In they came, down they sat. Two carafes of wine on a tray. One red wine placed elegantly on the table. The white wine took flight and landed directly on the freshly shaven neck of an immaculately suited elderly gent. This had not started well. I mopped. I apologised. I gave him a towel. Luckily, he took it in good spirit and my new career was back on track.

I became quite the expert at flinging objects off trays. My next effort was a flying bottle of beer landing in the middle of a table of touring golfers. I know now, that if a bottle is flung violently onto a table you do not put your thumb over the opening. If only I’d known that then.  I was effectively a golf course sprinkler as I waved the bottle up and down the table and out through the swinging kitchen doors. I though of it as sweet revenge as the golfing chaps had given me a lot of grief about fitting into my father’s trousers!

As busy as we were Trishy and I sometimes looked to each other for amusement. Watch this I said as I flung my arms in the air and crashed through the foresaid kitchen doors screaming “Mr Fawlty, Mr Fawlty restaurant curtains on fire” Now if it hadn’t been right in the middle of a very busy service, Tony and the rest of the kitchen staff, may have remembered that there were no curtains in the restaurant. Instead they all belted through the swinging door and were left standing mutely in front of a bemused restaurant full of people. Oops my bad! Pat/Sybil lead the retreat to the kitchen muttering darkly “I will never understand Peter Goodlet’s sense of humour” Trishy and I should not have laughed. But we did.

Piped music was played through the lounge and into the one working speaker in the restaurants ceiling. We were all terribly tired of three tapes of background music played night after night. Jan suggested I bring in some of my own tracks. As my own music consisted of mixed tapes made for me by my best mate Owen, bringing in a couple of those seemed ideal. Such fun we were having bopping around the restaurant with the volume on full. But hang on! What were those lyrics? Why were the Christians sitting under that one working speaker looking skyward with slack jawed alarm? Why could the vocalist just not get one F>>K? Oh dear! I belted towards reception to silence the blasphemy. Tony rushed, Jan rushed, the tape was violently ejected from the deck. My sartorial music debut was over and it was back to the dulcet tones of Barry Manilow.

The season was drawing to a close when Trishy and I convinced the powers to be that it would be fabulous to have a fancy-dress night for the staff. This all went swimmingly as surfers, surfie chicks and Mexicans served the happy customers. All good that is until Sherryl, who took the brief to another level, arrived in a full wetsuit, goggles, snorkel and flippers. As a decorative centrepiece she would have worked a treat. But it’s hard to deliver a seafood platter walking backwards in nearly six feet of squelching rubber while navigating through the fog of a facemask. Poor Mr Fawlty.

The season drew to close but would you believe it we were now part of the Greenacres family and they had us back, time and time again. After all, family is family.

For more Greenacres stories please forward your requests to petegoodlet@gmail.com

Manuel and his trusty rusty red corolla

Manuel and his trusty rusty red corolla

A little before my time.

A little before my time.