We were meeting David's son and his wife for lunch today and I found that we had been booked into an inland pub which used to be called Smokey Joe's. I have yet to find anyone local who remembers Smokey Joe so it must be going back a very long way. People usually look at me with a slightly puzzled expression because it has now gone up market and boasts a proper chef with all the trimmings.
In the old days though going out there was always a challenge. Sometimes there was food and sometimes, nothing. At its best you could always get smoked fish and all the variations round that theme but at its worst there was nothing at all.
As it involves a bit of a drive from here the disappointment was profound. One evening, going out with friends after a day on the boat we took the trouble to ring up to ask if they were doing food. They were so off we went.
My first husband, also called David was hungry..and was working out what he could eat. It was already gone eight and all the local eating places were booked up so it must have been August. Boats take a long time to put away properly and we were all fairly hungry but David was starving!
We went in, ordered our drinks and asked for a menu. There was a pause.
"We are serving food but I'm afraid our cookers failed us and it can only be cold food."
David demurred. He had not driven all that way for a salad. We told him that the chances of eating anywhere else that night were slim. Why not have a nice smoked mackerel salad.
He gave in with ill grace and finally food was placed before us.
They were very small portions indeed. Not enough to keep the cat going.
At that point my husband kicked off....he was not eating that so called salad...it couldn't even be classed as rabbit food, as for the mackerel well.....he thought it illegal to take out what were only dabs and pass them off as mackerel, as for smoking them well.......it went on like for some time.
The three of us who felt much the same just ate ours, whilst David got more and more angry. It got worse when they had no puddings to offer us.
We paid and left and then David fulminated in the car.
The year later we were able to tease him about it. The other two people are still good friends of mine and "Going to Smokey Joes" passed into out common parlance as enough to make a hungry man weep.
It was also what we said to David whenever he looked as though something had upset him.
"You are not going to do a Smokey Joe's are you?" He would then just grin and calm down.
I am happy to say that today's meal at Smokey Joe's was fine and no one lost their cool!