Tag Archives: change

The final meal at Café Rouge

What is it that Café Rouge does not understand about service?

Last Friday I visited their Manchester branch (next to the National Football Museum) for breakfast with my family. They had all travelled up from Hampshire to support Team GB in their first Olympic football game – me and my wife had come all the way from São Paulo in Brazil for this game.

We entered the restaurant and waited, and waited, and waited. I eventually went to fetch menus, but found they were the wrong menus – only featuring lunch items. Us having the menus finally meant the staff gave us a correct menu, and the waitress apologised and said she was running the entire café this morning all alone.

We finally placed our order and waited. And waited. And waited. Our coffee and juice had been served, but was all finished because we had been still waiting half an hour when I decided to ask where our food is.

I asked the waitress, who just brushed me off with a ‘it’s on the way’ – I said in the mildest possible way (given that I was now fed up with this café) that if they do not serve us in the next few minutes I’m leaving and I don’t expect a bill for the coffee.

Soon the food was being served and all was well. I asked for the bill and paid in cash immediately. It came to £48.10 and I left £48.20 – really not interested in giving a tip for such poor waiting service, then the change came back all in coppers.

So the manager decided that because I was a difficult customer, she would be difficult when giving change.

Well I can see that Dana was my server. Now let’s see if Café Rouge has anything to say about the way their manager behaved? I’m hoping they can tell me how this reflects great British customer service and what visitors to the country should expect.

Then again, whatever they say I know I’m never going back. Or my family, or my friends, or anyone else who reads this.

Team GB - Game 1

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A Change of Name

I got married way back in 1995, when I was pretty young. I married a Japanese girl and her surname was Kobayashi. I was never comfortable with the idea that a woman has to adopt a man’s name after marriage. It strikes me as a bit odd, like continuing the idea that a father owns his daughter and passes her on to the husband, so the woman has to only ever have the name of her father or her husband.

So we agreed to hyphenate our names – both of us started using Kobayashi-Hillary as our surname and it was all fine. I wrote several books using that name.

But I broke up with my former wife over three years ago and we have since divorced. So I recently took some time to go and get a new passport, reverting back to my former name, just ‘Mark Hillary’.

I’m undecided what I will do about my next book. The Kobayashi-Hillary name is very unusual and having written several books under that name, I might continue to use it as a writing name for some time, but to be honest I am still undecided on that.

For now though, I’m officially just Mark Hillary once again.

Self-portrait sketchbook - Mark Kobayashi-Hillary