It was just like the scene from American Werewolf in London: As we walked into the village pub all eyes turned to track the strangers as they made their way to the bar. I heard Andrea mutter, “ohh gawd,” between tightly pursed lips, but there was no going back now. We all lined up at the bar, gregarious smiles fixed on our faces trying to hide our discomfort as the landlady approached and asked what we’d like in her broad Zumerzet accent. I opened my mouth and I felt Andrea sharply jab me in the hip and telepathically hiss: ‘Do not mention her accent, for gods’ sake don’t mention her accent.’ I love accents and have a Tourettes-esque tendency of blurting out, ‘I love your accent!’ to any random person I might meet. I got the impression Andrea did not think being in a Somerset pub with a bar full of locals was a good time to start on the accents. I can’t imagine why.
Silence descended amongst the locals. We must not fuck this up. I gulped, hoping someone would go first as I was pretty sure a mojito was out of the question here and I wasn’t sure what else I fancied.
“Pint of Kronenbourg, please.” Lisa kicked us off. It was a strong start.
“Glass of cab sav, thanks, house is fine.” It was a good, understated choice from Andrea.
“Umm, err…I’d like a…” I started to flail, staring wide eyed at the bottles behind the bar. I’d had a glass of red at the cottage and I didn’t rate the house wine here, but didn’t think asking what New World shiraz’s they'd recommend would be the done thing.
“Erm…” My mouth went dry. “Umm, I think I’ll have a…” Shit. What did I want?!Think, woman! “Err…Pimms and lemonade, please?” I felt everyone breathe a sigh of relief. Admittedly, Pimms was an odd choice on a chilly May evening, but it was too late to change my mind now.
Last in line was Kim, but she’d have a white wine, no sweat.
“I think I’d like to sample your local cider, please.”
What the...?! Everyone did a double take, staring at Kim, horrified. What was she playing at? Why was she drawing even more attention to us than was necessary? It was bad enough she was wearing a leather jacket that made her look like Fonzie out of Happy Days, and now this?
We all looked back at the landlady who began pouring what looked like cloudy urine into a small glass. She looked quietly impressed though. Yes. Kim was embracing Somerset and the local produce and traditions. Good move, Kim, well played. As she lifted the glass to her lips, we all grimaced slightly at the cloudy ‘fuzz’ swimming about in the glass. It would be fine. Kim didn’t expect an exotic flavoured artisan cider, this was good ol’ locally brewed grog, and that would be absolutely fine.
Please God, let this be fine. Please let Kim like the cider.
She had to. She couldn’t turn it down now and order a chardonnay; that would be an insult. No, Kim knew what she’d put herself up for and she’d have to take one for the team whether she liked the cider or not.
Our eyes burned into Kim as she sampled her drink. We held our breath. The landlady held her breath. The whole bloody pub held its breath. I felt faint. Beads of sweat started to appear on Andrea’s forehead. Even Lisa looked like she might give up the adult sized bed if Kim just damn well ordered a pint of the local cider!
Kim replaced her glass on the bar. This was her moment. She could turn us into celebrated patrons or reviled townies with one fell swoop. I had faith in Kim, though. She was my level-headed friend you could depend on in an emergency. She wouldn’t let us down.
“Hmmm…ummm…I think not. Maybe a Pimms for me as well, please.”
Fucks’ sake Kim! You can never rely on Kim. She’s not known as ‘Flaky Kim’ for nothing!
We all shuffled shamefaced to a table with our drinks and perused the menu whilst expressing our disappointment at Kim using just the daggers in our eyes and silently mouthed expletives.
A suspiciously short time later, our ‘freshly’ prepared meals arrived. Three rounds of fish and chips, and a homemade tomato soup for The Fonze – err, I mean, Kim. We all gushed delight and praise as the landlady set the plates in front of us, eating the fare with highly embellished relish. If we could have loudly smacked our lips and slapped our thighs with delight, we would have; anything to make up for Flaky Kim’s faux pas. It didn’t matter that our fish was mostly batter with a whitebait sized piece of cod hidden amongst it, or that the chips were rather al dente; we were going to make it look like this was the best meal we had ever tasted, regardless.
Kim, however, was swirling her spoon around the soup with a worrying look of distaste on her face.
“Err, it said, homemade, but this doesn’t taste homemade…”
“What do you mean it doesn’t taste homemade? It looks homemade to me. Just because it’s not homemade like you might make it doesn’t mean it’s not homemade, Kim.” I needed to nip this in the bud, right now.
“She’s right, it doesn’t look homemade. It’s too smooth. It looks tinned.”
“How the hell can it ‘look’ tinned? It’s tomato soup! Of course it’s smooth. You’re hardly likely to get lumps of tomato in it, are you?” My hysteria was reaching fever-pitch.
“I know what she means. It looks like someone has just whizzed up a tin of soup in the blender to make it look homemade.” Lisa dipped a spoon in. “That’s not homemade,” she agreed. “That’s Heinz.”
My heart stopped. I fixed Kim with my best death stare.
“You’re not going to send it back, are you, Kim?” It was more a threat than a question.
“I don’t think I can eat it.”
“Of course you can eat it! Look, mine tastes disgusting and I’m still eating it!” I took an overly-enthusiastic mouthful of soggy fish and stared determinedly at Kim.
“I think it’s time to pay and leave,” Andrea interjected before I launched myself across the table and attempted to force-feed Kim by ramming the Pimms straws up her nose and pouring in the soup.
“I’m not leaving a tip,” a defiant Kim just didn’t know when to let lie; still pumped from the e-numbers in the family pack of Skittles she'd consumed on the journey here no doubt.
“They stared at me when I went to the loo. I felt very uncomfortable.”
“Of course they fucking stared at you, Kim! They’re wondering if Chachi and Joanie are going to join you later!"
It had been a long day and there was only one thing for it; go back to Lodge Cottage and get shitfaced on rum. After all, tomorrow was another day and Lisa had a very long walk in the wilderness planned for us all…