Sunday Lunch With a Side Order of Unhappy Infant
In order to drum up the desire to procreate, it’s said that all parents lie to themselves. “Ours will be different” they say, believing that their babies won’t be howling balls of colic, nor evolve into fearsome, hyperactive, rude and naughty toddlers. The other big lie is this: “it’s fine to bring our babies and toddlers out to gastropubs, and clog up all available space with prams”.
What is the matter with yuppy parents these days? Is the urge to eat Blytheburg ham and Essex marsh samphire and North Sea skate and Hackney rhubarb and Suffolk beef and other gastrofare served on sticky wood tables so damn strong that social consideration be damned? Because that’s certainly how it feels trying to have lunch of a Sunday in the pleasanter parts of Zones two and three.
Take the Horseshoe in Hampstead, one of my favourite places in the area for its above average food and booze, (sometimes even inspired), and excellent location. Eating there should be an atmospheric experience for adults – or at least those old enough to feed themselves – that enjoy a good, well-priced and trendy meal washed down with an equally trendy pint of ale or glass of wine. I don’t think those of pre-verbal age, who can only enjoy a meal when held on a diagnonal or lying supine in a pram – fall into that category.
But the point is this. For those of us who are actually still in a place of enjoying meals selfishly, and who consider the way a place looks and feels, the zoo-like effect arising from the presence of the breeding, gastro pubbing classes is a real downer. As I sat with my equally non-parental friend Helen at the Horseshoe on Sunday, after waiting half an hour for a table because the pram-laden crowds were very persistent that day, we were treated to the inevitable theatrics of an infant and her older brother being made to hang around while their parents finished their Red Poll roast beef and pumpkin and goat’s cheese salad next to us (the perils of shared tables). Next to my own plate of skate wing with braised leaks was, in fact, a Tesco bag with a bib and a bottle on it. My view forwards was of two prams. I felt my digestive system roiling and my blood pressure rising. I was eating skate and trying to have a normal conversation in a cresh!
Parents: disabuse yourself of this lie- it’s too late to do anything about the other one. It is not nice to bring your kids to packed Sunday lunch at the pub. It ruins it for the rest of us and it’s not exactly fun for the kids either. Make us all happy and cook your own lunch while the kids frolic (or colic) outside – surely that’ll earn you far more credit in the Good Modern Parent stakes, anyway. Just make sure it’s organic, ok?