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A shocking event has been revealed by the vigilance of those who contribute to TripAdvisor. It has been reported that tea was ordered at a named hotel in the Midlands and was brought to the waiting guests by a waitress who (this is hard to believe) arrived with the teapot and a separate tray bearing the teacups at the same time.
Apparently there was no space on the table for the two items! You can imagine, perhaps, the upset this caused, and were it not for the revelation reaching the internet this disturbing lapse of professionalism might never have come to our attention. I imagine the offending waitress was given her marching orders.
No doubt TripAdvisor has sent many a traveller to a satisfactory destination but it has, let’s admit it, provided a forum for any self-important twerp to make trivial, but damning, observations about people and places struggling to provide hospitality.
A couple who recently visited Ireland from Scotland wrote no fewer than 47 different reviews on the website and, since they visited us, I know that their overwhelming response to everything depended on how much these two individuals were flattered by the hosts. Why is there not a website called say GuestAware where accommodation providers can write reviews warning others of tiresome travellers?
Even the destinations we love most are rarely perfect and it doesn’t take much, a stray cobweb or just a glance at the wrong time, to send a person in pursuit of a grievance to share it with the rest of the world. A hotel of great charm in which we stayed at in Copenhagen was written off on TripAdvisor because ‘the lift was too small’.
People, we know, write their own glowing reviews on TripAdvisor, and there are those who have the time to answer criticisms about their establishments, but the website has become burdensome for many and the overload of information tedious. Oh for the days when a sagacious editor monitored what appeared in print. Those days, alas, will not return.
Old Luddite I may be, but there is another disturbing development that the internet has thrown up. Happily I have not been asked to a wedding for some years. This all changed months ago when an email alerted me to the fact that a relative was plotting to do the deed this summer and a date was mentioned. So far, so good.
There was a time when a wedding invitation was made to look ‘inviting’ and you might have expected any invitation, come to that, to be framed in such a way that you could be tempted away from your fireside. All that, thanks to the internet, has changed. My relative and his spouse to be have set up a wedding website for information relating to their nuptials that my daughter has aptly renamed The Rule Book.
We are being summoned to a remote (and therefore expensive to get to) part of England. We have hosted three weddings at home for our children and on each occasion neighbours rallied to put up people who had to travel from afar. Today wedding guests are told to book in to a hotel. Good for the hotel trade but costly for the invitee.
The website then instructs the guests how everyone will be invited to a two hour reception, but only some are to be invited to a dinner, at what time you must order your taxi, how children are to be removed from the church if they are unruly, how they cannot attend the reception, the precise time you are expected to leave the premises and finally a large section of this overload of information is devoted to the presents the couple expect to receive.
How could any of this be deemed to be in the spirit of hospitality? Who in this busy world has the time or the inclination to read all the details of this proposed alliance? Add to the mix the rise in divorces and the fact that the last wedding about which I heard (but thankfully was not invited to) happened last September and by Christmas the wife had locked her new husband out of the family house and is now filing for divorce. I view these wedding capers with great cynicism. The World Wide Web is a wonderful and mysterious and permanent presence in our lives, but it has the capacity for great harm, and it would be prudent to be aware of and resist some of its excesses.
Trip Advisor is both a blessing and a tyranny but I can find no merit in a wedding website. Photographs of the (now) happy couple only serve to annoy when I consider how impoverished family members are being invited to fork out hundreds of pounds to attend a ceremony that appears to be run on very tight lines and with little scope for merriment. I for one shall not be buying a new hat.
Together with her husband Johnny & family, Lucy Madden runs their magnificent 18th century mansion, Hilton Park, Clones, Co Monaghan as a country house which is open to private guests, groups, small weddings and conferences. The restored formal gardens are also open by arrangement. Lucy is a keen organic gardener and also a member of the Irish Food Writers Guild.