Friday, 2 March 2012

Deuxième Service

I don't think I've ever mentioned having read a book called  Mad World:  Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead, by Paula Byrne. I was lucky enough to buy this for only 99p thanks to a coupon my friend Vivien sent me. From it I learned that Waugh and his friends had visited Highclere Castle (where Downton Abbey is filmed).   They - the Mitford sisters, Waugh and other of his 'set' tended to use a lot of slang of their own invention and and 'Highclere' was their word for anything very fine or elegant. So it's not just me.

If you are interested in the lifestyle of the middle and upper classes during the inter-war period then I would guess Mad World might interest you, as well as Brideshead Revisited, which is considered the best depiction ever written about life at Oxford during that time.

Ever since I read the latter book, about this time last year, I've wanted to immerse myself a bit further into understanding some of the many references it makes to the period.  And not just that, I've wanted to visualise how things looked.   So from time to time, I may share some of what I discover here.

As to the title of this post?  Well, I have to admit I drafted it a while back when I first learned that there would be a second series of Downton Abbey.  You'll understand how exciting that new was!  Also, the phrase deuxième service shows up in BR early on.  It means 'second service' and it refers to the practice of some restaurants of booking an early seating for the evening meal, followed by a stated time at which there will be a second service.  We run into this all the time on board the ferry to Amsterdam, where there seems to be a nearly infinite supply of food, but only a very generous number of tables. 

I never heard this phrase or experienced the concept until I came to Britain.   Just one more of those funny little differences.  Then again, it may be that I just didn't frequent the right sort of places in the U.S.  Then again, perhaps it's not the right sort that does this, as apparently at least one person in Australia wasn't happy about this.

Are you used to booking a table for the evening or for a seating?


elke said...

We have encountered this, in Toronto, 30+ years ago, at Napoleon's, then a very nice restaurant. We booked by 'phone for a week-night dinner at 6:00. (We had an hour's drive home, and work the next day.) They said they would need the table again at 8:30. Fine. We were prepared to leave in time, but they *pushed* us, both in what we ordered and in the pacing. We were out the door by 7:30, and we never went back. It was very expensive fast food.

Suburban Princess said...

I used to encounter this when I was footloose and fancyfree in the city. When accepting a dinner date I always wanted the second service. Now with a little guy I will take the early one lol!

Anonymous said...

The only time I've encountered this practice was on the handful of cruises I've taken. Guests were obliged to designate the dinner hour they preferred and then were committed to that seating time throughout the cruise.

Beryl said...

It's always a surprise how expensive it is to eat out in France, especially when you consider how inexpensive food is it tne markets. You must be paying for the table for the whole night, at least that's what I always thought. (That woman may be in Australia, but her sentiments are totally French.)