Well, that's it ... my last celebration of St. Patrick's Day in a public place. I am just too old.
Especially in a too crowded restaurant ... too crowded to manage the service of food ... so noisy you couldn't hear yourself think or your friends talk ... so overwhelmed by their popularity that they ran out of fish and chips ...
Especially with a hungry child who becomes sullen when he doesn't get his fish and chips, doesn't like his chocolate milk, and is freaked out by the green whipped cream on his hot chocolate ...
Especially when the seating arrangement does not make conversation easy ... and one of the people at your table is completely deaf in the ear closest to you.
Wakefield is a community that will forgive a new restaurant for being unprepared for its first St. Patrick's Day, just as they forgave them the first weekend they opened and so many people showed up that they ran out of food. The community will remember the free green hats, the music, the readings, the free shots of Irish whiskey, the movie they showed, and the good food, even if wasn't the fish and chips they came for.
And they know that next time there will be enough fish and chips; that Le Hibou's owner, Una, will re-assess just as she did that first weekend, so that the same mistakes will not be made. Le Hibou will survive and grow from this experience.
I too have learned. I will visit Le Hibou in the afternoon when it is peaceful and the staff are not harried. I will take my journal, my water colour pencils, and a good pen ... and I will order something yummy or maybe just a glass of the restaurant-priced wine.
And I will continue to take my friends there for lunch, because Le Hibou is still my favourite restaurant.
Next March 17, however, I will make my own haddock and fries, I will drink cheap wine, and Kenya and I will wear green and watch The Commitments at home. And my friends will be welcome to join me.