Is the wooden spoon table number a uniquely British institution?
In my travels across Europe and my brief trips to Asia, Africa and America I don’t ever remember coming across it. Mostly, table numbers are fixed in the minds of waiting staff and the customer has no idea. Sometimes in British pubs, the tables are numbered with brass plaques inset into wooden table tops.
And then there is the wooden spoon.
It felt strange in this intimate bar with only 5 tables, to be given a number instead of the bar staff noting that we were sat in the only available space, right in front of the bar.
And traditional British reserve, dictating that in cramped conditions it is only polite to ignore the fact that the lady at table 36 is sending her husband to the window seat to press the shutter for her self-portrait. We got away with that.
But when Ron was dispatched to the bar (a mere 3 feet from table 36 in the corner of the room) it was too much, and the barman tried to help out by offering us more beer.
But being British and a good sport we didn’t have to explain the whole 52 weeks ethos and he merely smiled and told us to go ahead and take as many photos are we liked.
And by the way, I have no idea who was so hungry that they ate the spoon. I had barely enough time to set up my camera before the food arrived so it wasn’t me.