Marie’s Cafe Waterloo review: good food if you like being bullied

I don’t normally like to complain about small businesses, but tonight I was shocked by the treatment my friends and I received at Marie’s Cafe.

Marie’s Cafe is a Thai restaurant near Waterloo. It’s cheap and you can bring your own booze. It’s very popular with young people for this reason. I’ve long been a fan and have often recommended it to friends, as well as bringing various social groups here.

Tonight I visited with two girl pals. When we arrived, it was packed. Lots of people were waiting for seats. Even though I had booked a table, we still had to wait a while to get ours.

We sat down, and immediately the service wanted to know our order. This seemed like a good sign at the beginning, but I honestly felt harassed by the end of the evening, as if Glenn Close from Fatal Attraction had become my waiter – but with less charm. The staff here are so desperate to flog meals that they treat customers a bit like cattle that have to be rushed through.

We ordered starters and mains. A waiter and waitress brought these out quickly, and together. The waitress then cleared my starter plate away when I had not finished it.

The service was mad. We were constantly harassed to finish our food. At every opportunity, the waitress was there – encouraging us to hurry up. My friend ate the last spoonful of her main and she took her plate away. I told the waitress could she please let us be for a bit, but things continued. We must have been there about half an hour when they started trying to get rid of us.

We ordered a cup of tea in order to justify staying longer, but halfway through the waitress handed us the bill – which we did not ask for. I turned it upside down and we ignored it. Then the head chef came over and told us we had to pay as our table was needed.

I got annoyed by this and complained to another waiter, who had been equally bothersome for the half hour/ hour we’d been there. I asked him if they could all just leave us in peace, as we were midway through drinks.

But the head chef came over again. He told us we really had to go now. I told him how rude he was, and he said he didn’t care – it was the way they were. I said I would write about this experience and he said to go for it – so here I am! I told him I thought he was a bully. At one point he gave me a piece of paper and pen and told me to write down exactly how he should run his business.

I wish I could have filmed this bizarre experience. Sure, restaurants get busy and need customers to be aware of that, but practically chucking people out is not acceptable – especially as we were in there for an hour maximum. All we wanted was a leisurely curry! Should a restaurant that feel stressed enough that it must intimidate customers into leaving, they should probably buy more tables – or close down.

I’m all the more unhappy about our treatment because I’ve always promoted that restaurant. Its owners clearly think they are too good for manners. All of this is self-defeating; we would have spent more money had they let us sit in their premise for more than an hour. Marie’s Cafe is run by a bully. One that has no business sense, either.

Oh, and the food wasn’t even that good.


Girls shun science when they have choice

His Royal Mouthpiece for the Liberal Media, Prince Harry, and bride-to-be Meghan Markle spent International Women’s Day encouraging young women to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects and careers. Like much of the public, poor Harry has swallowed the lie that female underrepresentation in STEM is the result of gross gender stereotypes.

Real empiricists will know that there hasn’t been much evidence to support this hypothesis, which has become all too fashionable in recent times. Our country has a huge obsession with gender equality – and diversity, generally – as a measure of a progress. It is not that simple, though – and we all need to wake up and think a bit. Controversially, a recent study shows that in societies with more wealth and egalitarian policies, women are less likely to select STEM degrees. This has been called the “gender-equality paradox”, and it’s something most feminists don’t want to talk about.

Gender stereotypes are a brainless theory for STEM disparity, not least because girls do so well across academia. Aside from last year’s A Level results, they almost always outperform boys at school and university level education. This gives them more choice than their male counterparts to follow different career paths. That they do not pursue STEM is likely to reflect their own interests and ambitions over anything else.

When I was at school, I have to say, there was nothing that I wanted to be less than a scientist. Most of my teachers in this subject were oddballs – one had a poster about “The Dangers of Snogging”, among other quirks – and staring at bunsen burners did not exactly light my fire. The only thing that forced me away from STEM was the boredom of the periodic table.

Girls are much pickier than is acknowledged about what they study, and it’s time people stopped treating them as passive participants in the process of their education. One of my main bones of contention with modern feminism is that it is so focused on ideology that it sometimes overlooks stark reality. Its proponents are unable to form nuanced conclusions about data, which inadvertently makes women look less good at science. It’s not simply the case in STEM that “lots of men” = bad and “more women” = good. Disparity may be the consequence of a free society, not an oppressive one. It can be reflective of choice.

Third-wave feminists have a narrative to prove – that women are victims – and so will always try to explain gender inequality through these terms. This is a shame because education is one area where women are very much winning; we should be popping our champagne bottles over girls’ achievements, not acting as if Peter Stringfellow had become Minister for Education.

The truth about STEM, as I suspect Meghan Markle will know herself – is that many scientific careers simply aren’t that appetising to women. Staring at petri dishes all day? No thanks. Equations on the blackboard? Zzz. On his ‘STEM’ tour, Prince Harry rather hit on a point when he said of engineering: “we want to get away from [the idea] that it’s all men in overalls and oily rags”. Isn’t that the point? Personally, I wouldn’t want to be Billy Joel in the Uptown Girl video. But Christie Brinkley on his bike? Yes please.

The Duchess of Cambridge should help working mums

I’m a huge fan of the Duchess of Cambridge; so much so that I cried at her wedding to William, and even forgave her when she called her child Charlotte, which – I know full well – is one of the most hackneyed monikers of all time. It’s the sense of stability that makes Kate so special; exactly what the Royal family needs, and missed during the Diana years.

Even so, some of the Duchess’s charitable activities have made me raise an eyebrow in recent years. Along with Princes Harry and William, Kate has been greatly preoccupied with children’s mental health, running numerous campaigns to raise awareness. Though well-intentioned, these have always seemed to me to promote hypochondria among parents and children more than eradicating stigma. Such activities have also distracted the Duchess from one big opportunity: to help working mothers.

Indeed, watching her out and about today on a royal engagement to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, something struck me that I hadn’t realised before: the Duchess is quite possibly most famous working Mum in the country. Motherhood is desperately in need of a sisterly saviours; unintentionally, perhaps, it has been neglected by feminism. As a single woman, feminism seems warm and welcoming, but has barely any positions on areas that affect mothers; breastfeeding or the right to choose (a caesarean), for instance.

But the it’s time motherhood got some attention, not least because it is the cause of one of the biggest barriers for women; gender pay disparity. Discrepancies clearly exist because of childcare, which women continue to take the brunt of. This then forces them into part-time work, to accommodate their children’s needs, and it’s always these roles that are the worst paid.

Motherhood needs huge attention, not only to ensure more have more help with getting back into work, but to incentivise future generations to have children. At the moment it isn’t all that appetising, knowing what the stakes are. Men can have it all: amazing professions, amazing kids (sometimes). For women, broodiness almost certainly dents on career prospects.

There are numerous ways in which the current set up for mothers could be improved. Socially there needs to be more expectation for men to take up childcare. This is something the Duchess and Prince William seem to manage quite effectively.

Companies could also help workers more, running nurseries, dare I say, as a staff perk. In general motherhood needs the same sort of attention as mental health, #MeToo and numerous other fashionable movements are afforded.

Most of all, mothers need a respected figurehead fighting for awareness of their needs. Who better than the Duchess herself?

It is a privilege to hate the West

The scene of Mike Pence and Kim Jong-Un’s sister, Kim Yo-Jong, sitting together at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony has exposed something sinister and alarming about the liberal media: its wilful reluctance to be truthful about the West.

Indeed, reading most newspapers, one could be forgiven for thinking the West is the most oppressive place on earth. Journalists have done everything they can to prove Trump and his government are fascists. But when these same commentators were presented with an actual fascist – Kim Yo-Jong, Pyongyang’s PR queen – they swooned and gasped, like a bunch of silly school girls.

“Kim Jong-un’s Sister Turns on the Charm, Taking Pence’s Spotlight”, read the New York Times, which said that Ms. Kim had “managed to outflank Mr. Trump’s envoy to the Olympics”. “Kim Jong Un’s sister is stealing the show at the Winter Olympics”, said CNN; another paper complimented her “charm offensive”.

When it came to Mike Pence they were not so flattering; Slate magazine asked: “Is Mike Pence the biggest jerk of the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics?” Others were even more poisonous, joking that Americans might want to flee the oppressive US.

These critiques are not so much laughable, but an insult to the citizens of North Korea: a country in which people are systematically murdered, tortured, raped, starved and where forced abortions are performed by injecting motor oil into the wombs of pregnant women. But the US is worse, right? The US deserves more condemnation?

Such double standards in reporting are indicative of many Westerners’ disgust for their own countries, for reasons that are quite perplexing. There is a fashionable assumption to believe that the West is corrupted, restrictive and responsible for every evil in the world; that the ‘system’ needs overthrowing and made better. Really?

I somewhat expect that humans reach the self-destruct button once they have achieved everything they need; liberty, basic needs and nice television sets. Maslow suggested that when we have it all, we self-actualise, but more often than not we navel-gaze, unable to see how lucky we are from an objective perspective.

What is all the more hypocritical about the commentators who have flattered North Korea is that it’s often these same people who pretend to care about the international community, projecting themselves as charitable globalists.

Actually, they only care about worldwide crises when they’re caused by the West, so as to justify their own hatred of it. When regimes have their own self-inflicted evils, commentators will never say so.

This is not only evident from the Winter Olympics coverage, but the lack of interest Iran has had in its protests, and the dearth of commentary around President Rodrigo Duterte – the murderous leader of the Philippines – who recently ordered his soldiers to shoot female rebels in the vagina.

If only these murderous dictators were treated with the same contempt afforded to Trump and his associates – Bambi and Thumper in comparison – perhaps some real social progress might be made.

But it’s impossible when Westerners are so unwilling to appreciate their own fortune. Thinking you’ve got it tough in the West is the new “let them eat cake”.

Stranger Things 2: It was good, but I preferred Series 1


This weekend, I finished Stranger Things 2 – which was a huge achievement for me.

I’m a big commitment phobe – when it comes to watching television series, of course – and find it hard to stick with anything because of my busy and fabulous life.

I began watching Season 2 on Halloween because I thought it would scare me.

But by episode 4, the only thing I was feeling was a bit snoozalicious.

The next day, I told my friends how bored I was with Stranger Things 2.

“You’ve got to give it time!” They said.

(Incidentally, isn’t this always the way? Almost every TV series needs ‘time’…)

But to be fair to these friends, they were right.

After episode 4, Stranger Things 2 did grow on me, so much so that I became addicted – and had to watch about seven episodes in one sitting.

So well done to the Duffer brothers; they are very clever, and have great facial hair.

Series 2 is similar to Series 1 in many ways – namely because the characters fall victim to a parallel universe with monsters and mysterious forces that they must defeat.

There are new characters involved along the way.

My favourite was Bob, who’s Joyce’s boyfriend in the series (Joyce being the character played by Winona Ryder).

He’s introduced as a simple, kind sort – whom you have a feeling Joyce could do better than.

But then he turns out to be intelligent and extremely brave – and you realise you got him all wrong!

Oh life’s ironies; how I enjoy them.

I shed at least four tears when Bob was killed off.

EVEN SO. Even in spite of all this, I did not think Series 2 was as good as Series 1.

Although saying that, Series 1 is very, very good, so Series 2 is simply very good by comparison.

One big reason I didn’t like Series 2 as much is because I hate sequels generally – aside from Addams Family Values.

They’re often rubbish – and motivated purely by monetary needs, never artistic integrity.

So Stranger Things 2 was always onto an uphill struggle at winning over yours truly.

But it was the trivial elements that got me pulling my ‘hmm’ face.

For one, I was confused about why Nancy dumps Steve for Jonathan.

Steve is gorgeous and nice.

Jonathan looks anaemic and has no personality.

Why, Nancy, why?

Maybe the Duffer brothers need to hire me as their Consultant Casting Director for Babelicious Men – so I can set them on the right path.

I’m also not keen on the character Eleven any more. She becomes really snotty in Series 2, and that’s not just her nose – which I wish would stop bleeding. It’s her attitude too.

Oh, and I’m tired of her being the only one to save the world.

Give someone else a go, lav!

Like I said, I did still enjoy Series 2 – so none of this is to say it wasn’t jolly good entertainment.

It’s wacky and the characters are – on the whole – loveable and easy to get attached to.

And, like Season 1 it is able to captivate huge audiences. I don’t even like sci-fi but I’m glued to this.

But I feel that some of the more mundane things – rather than the stranger things –  of the plot need developing for Series 3.



Why are we all spying on each other with technology?

Something concerns me of recent in our society, and that is the tendency for people to spy on each other with technology. Social media, in particular, has become a common way to shame unsuspecting members of the public. Just this week there has been a nationwide hunt for a ‘love rat’ called Ben, after he was (apparently) overheard on a train boasting about his sexual escapades – despite having a girlfriend. The woman listening to his conversation, named on Twitter as Emily, couldn’t bear to keep any of this to herself – of course, why would she? – but instead wrote to all her followers: ‘If anyone has a boyfriend called Ben on the Bournemouth – Manchester train right now, he’s just told his friends he’s cheating on you. Dump his ass x’. Twenty-seven thousand Twitter users, at the time of writing, shared her post.

Perhaps Emily felt she had been the hero that day she chose to broadcast the conversation of what she describes as ‘a group of boys’, but one has to wonder where exactly it might lead to should anyone discover Ben’s real identity. People are pushed to the edge when they have been publicly shamed – so strong is the current of mass condemnation. Even Deborah Meaden posted about Ben on her Twitter account; eager to draw attention to the initial Tweet. Poor bloke, is all I can think. I hope he knows that, whatever his faults, I defend his right to boast on a train.

Unfortunately, it is becoming common for public to incriminate others through technology – in a strange type of vigilantism. In the past, mobile phones were used in reasonable ways to promote justice and safety; Tweets have alerted great numbers of people to danger – in the wake of terrorist attacks – and videos have provided evidence in court. But we have gradually started to document less serious behaviour with technology; trivial acts that might have been mitigated and dealt with privately are now spread out for the masses to feast on. Last month a woman was filmed dragging her child along a road in Liverpool, in a video that was widely shared and criticised; it later transpired he had autism, and the mother was struggling to cope. The damage has been done, and the woman’s reputation stained – now that we are so keen to spy on each other, rather than communicate directly.

All of this ultimately means that over time, the public will grow more and more wary of how they act out and about, in case they find themselves on film or social media. After all, who wants to have a chat on the train in these current circumstances, knowing someone might post about it later on Twitter? Or film it all?

Even the Pestminster scandal has made me think twice about who I want to email. That’s because, among the serious allegations, were also instances of women, like Kate Maltby, who broadcasted harmless messages with Damian Green for all to see. The Twitter communications of the journalist Rupert Myers were also widely distributed, as examples of his gross sexual misconduct. None of these scribblings ever came across as elucidating or damning, just the sort of thing many people send to each other every day. Was it fair to share? I don’t think so. Besides, I tend to believe there are unwritten rules when it comes to technological communication; namely, that you do not distribute it, unless it poses a serious danger.

It seems to me that we have never really lost that urge, since the Gladiator games, to cause people pain on a huge scale – albeit now through technology. We love to see the little man fall, perhaps because this deflects away from our own humanity – and faults. Now we do this through our camera phones.

I do still think that technology has an important role in protecting us all, if it is used to capture the worst of mankind’s behaviour. But there has to be some sort of balance; we should not live in a society where we can find our lives ruined because of what we say on public transport. That is more dangerous than any ‘love rat’.

We have given our children too much sex education

Young people are more sexualised than ever before, and no one has worked out how to deal with the problem. This week, researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and University College London discovered that the number of 16-24-year-olds moving away from traditional sexual intercourse had doubled, partially thanks to the easy access of internet porn.

Immediately the sex ‘experts’ were out in full force. “We must have more graphic sex education on the curriculum!” was their knee-jerk reaction. None of this surprises me; whenever there is a issue surrounding sexualised young people, educators always promote information as the salvation.

Many think that the more teenagers know about the birds and the bees – and the handcuffs, and the rest – the better they will be at making decisions. This is flawed thinking, though, because through overly-focussing over sex, teachers actually raise expectations for children to be sexual. Imagine being a twelve-year-old in a classroom where you are told about S&M. That plants an expectation that it is something you will do.

It makes more sense to draw kids’ attention away from sex and onto other topics to counter national habits. For too long, this country has long been atrocious at dealing with sex education; we often overestimate the prurience of young people. The overarching assumption has become that most teenagers are gagging for it, as if school was an episode of Mad Men.

There’s also our wider culture that suggest to society’s most impressionable: “you should be having sex!” The Channel 4 Show The Joy of Teen Sex, released in 2011, is one strong example of this. It was ostensibly designed to allay teenagers’ sexual concerns, but – in fact – merely encouraged them to think around the clock about their genitals.

The “information is power” approach has overloaded kids, and this has had hugely negative consequences, with STI rates rising all the time. In 2014, 85,513 young people in England aged 15-19 had an STI.

People often mock religious schools because they skirt around sex education. But it’s ironic that they may have lower levels of STIs and STDs through promoting practices that limit sexual partners. Sex is even taught – shock, horror! – in the context of love and commitment.

I’m hardly the Virgin Mary, but I can see that there is something to be said for less is more in sex education. Sure, children need to know the basics. But when we feed them all the time on the subject, we suggest they should be “at it” all the time. Then we wonder why they are so precocious. We need to think laterally about sexual education. Making everything more graphic is not the way forward.