Online reviews are always a great source of entertainment, and TripAdvisor reviews may be the most entertaining of the genre. There is nothing better than a TripAdvisor post excoriating a dining establishment, to which the proprietor responds with a devastating takedown of the reviewer — often including a description of the reviewer getting drunk, vomiting on the waitress and leaving without paying the bill.
But recently I stumbled upon a TripAdvisor review that stands on its own by perfectly capturing the essence of a certain type here in Scotland, the persnickety Scottish OAP (that’s British for Old Age Pensioner, better known in the States as a retiree). I was researching the Gordon Highlanders Museum, a must-visit in Aberdeen for any lover of 18th and 19th century Scottish regiments and infantries, which I assume is most if not all of us. The review was not for the museum itself, but rather for the café within the museum.
While I at first scrolled by the review, thinking nothing of it, something made me do a digital double take. Was it the gripping title? The dapper profile picture? The 219 likes? Perhaps. Or maybe, just maybe, it was the fact that one ordinary Scotsman had emerged from the masses and taken it upon himself to take a stand. To query the difference between a cream tea and a cream scone, instead of sitting idly by whilst being robbed of 90 pence. And, most importantly, to epitomize and honor the courage of the highlanders whose museum he had not been round.
The title is perfect, because it makes so clear that the author is completely genuine and not writing the review for attention. At the very least he hopes that someone will read the title and be warned of this potential mix-up on their way to an actual museum review. If anyone reads the rest, great, but it’s just gravy.
Then, our author reveals that he hasn’t even been round the museum, which begs the question of why he was at the museum’s tea room in the first place. My theory is that, at a young age, he reviewed one museum tea room, got hooked, and then realized it was his calling, his passion and his destiny. From that day on, he’s made the ultimate sacrifice by going tea room to tea room, warning us of their hazards while allowing us to experience the exhibits’ wonders. The man likely hasn’t entered an actual museum since TripAdvisor was founded in 2000. But everybody needs a niche.
The stereotype of the cheap and thrifty Scotsman is nowhere more accurate than this review. To our author, 90 pence is the difference between whether or not he observes the gift-giving portion of Christmas this year. Yeah he paid up, and yeah it was delicious, but you’re bloody right he had to punch a couple more holes in the money belt. And then, after all the complaining, he ends up loving the “huge” cream scone and complementing the tea room’s free hot water. But let’s not forget the confusion – it tainted the experience.
With one or two reads of the review, you may allow the waitress to get off scot-free. But upon further inspection, it is clear that she’s horribly unfit and frankly unqualified for her position. Sure, she’d probably say that his accent was incomprehensible or that it was an honest mistake or that he misspoke and did in fact say cream scone in the first place. But this is Alastair N. we’re talking about. Lips with mustaches like that above them aren’t often at fault. The fact that he even considered giving her a tip is heroic in itself.
And then there’s that smug Nigel Thornberry grin coupled with the name Alastair. If he wasn’t so damn good at museum tea room reviews, I’d say he has an outstanding future as a cartoon detective.
Joking and teasing aside, this is what makes certain Scottish OAP’s so great. They are naturally funny. They’re funny without trying and sometimes without knowing it. Yeah they can be persnickety (such a perfect word, I don’t care how many times I use it), cheap and blunt. But that’s why we love them. Five minutes after he wrote the review, Alastair was probably back at the museum tea room inviting the waitress for a pint. That or he was on his way to his next museum tea room.
Well, a trip to the Gordon Highlanders Museum beckons, and so does a cream tea. Wait, no, I mean a cream scone. Until next time, Black Bears.