There is an unspoken contract when it comes to pubs. You ask for your drink, your drink is served, and then you pay. There is a similar contract when it comes to restaurants: you makes you choice, order your victuals, consume the grub and then pay. A pub couldn't do that except if you had a tab and agreed to pay at the end of the evening - and then only if the pub knew you. A Cafe is differentiated from a restaurant in that in a nice greasy spoon you makes your choice, pays your money and the food gets delivered to your table when it's suitably burnt.
Why then is The Fort Saint George becoming a Cafe? Twice last Friday (11th January 2013) evening, whilst out with a friend, I went to the bar and asked for a pint. I was told how much it would cost and then there was a pause. I looked up and the barkeep was looking at me in expectation, after a further awkward pause I clocked that I was expected to pay my money before the beer could be poured.
Now I couldn't be called pretty, when I was younger I was ever so much more pretty (my kids get bored about hearing how I was 6'1", thin with suitable muscle tone for someone who worked as a carer without access to a hoist and had hair so long his hit my (perfectly toned - some things don't change) bum). I have been called ever so slightly intimidating in appearance - but that doesn't correspond to my internal image of myself as a giant teddy-bear. Whatever the case I don't look like some sort of thug. I guess I'd just shaved all my hair off so maybe I was looking a little scary - but if you were scared of someone surely the approach would be to pour me my pint as soon as possible rather than to wind me up?
I wandered back to my table to wait for my mate and, when he arrived and got himself a pint, the correct thing happened: "Pint of Bitter please", beer was poured and placed afore him, he paid. We chatted for about half an hour and I needed another pint - I goes up and asks for my pint from a different member of the bar staff (after all - it might be the other persons first day and they might not know how a pub works) and the same thing happens. At this point I'm keeping an eye on the bar when I return to my seat. Everyone else is served as though in a pub except me.
Now I've always liked The Fort Saint George (unfortunately FaceBook doesn't allow you to dislike a page). It's over the river from a rather affluent part of Cambridge that I always get lost in, it's also on the river Cam so the cliental have always struck me as an interesting mix of posh people, students from the rowing clubs and boaters from the narrowboats all along that stretch of river. Me and 'er indoors once split up over a couple of plates of Fish and Chips there (think that it was for all of 6 hours or so and it was long before we were wed). The pub seems like a posh alternative from The Green Dragon and I had a whale of a time there in the Summer on my 40th.
You see I like the pub but I'm not sure what's going on with it. I'd hate to have to not go in because the staff are just weird but I'll be buggered if I'm going to be treated like some sort of second class citizen. Maybe it's Will and Kate's visit that's gone to their head?
Whatever the reason I'm not tempted to go back to a place which I cycle past at least once a day - and I have done for the past 14 years... what a shame :-(