Being the middle one of five children, I learned, very quickly, that I had to be loud, very loud, just to get myself noticed. Well, maybe I didn’t actually have to be be loud. But it was the only way it occurred to my simple self to get listened to when pitched against my two elder, brighter sisters; my slightly younger, but infinitely more loveable, Down’s Syndrome brother; and my unbelievably cute youngest sister. Why, it even seemed that my gran who lived with us, and the various dogs we were brought up with, got more attention despite being relatively serene; at least when compared with me.
As you can see, I was appallingly treated as a child and such treatment has left me scarred and with various legacies, not least the ability to shout louder than the competition. Which is a bonus when attempting to promote one’s business. Or at least that’s what I thought.
Because I’ve worked hard over the years, exercising my promotional vocal chords with a view to getting the name of Oldfields known throughout the region – to varying degrees of success. There’s no doubt it’s worked some of the time because the one thing I notice a lot is that most people I talk to have heard of our restaurant, or at least one of the restaurants we’ve had. However, only a small minority have been to one. On the plus side, that means there’s a lot of potential to go at.
So, as you can see, despite my damaging upbringing, I’m also an optimist. Which is why, when we found out that the building that we rent in which to run our Durham restaurant, had been sold to a new landlord for the site to be developed, I instantly considered that this had the possibilities for a brighter future; not least a brand new, of-the-moment restaurant. Because we have a protected lease, which means that we don’t have to move if we don’t want to, all we had to do was come to an amicable settlement with our new landlords, Student Castle, while letting all our customers know that we would then be seeking pastures new with an onwards and upwards objective.
We’ve been partially successful. On the downside, Student Castle are an enigma; obviously busy with putting their plans together which means they can’t find time to talk to us. But on the plus side, most of our customers have got our message that we’re going to be around for at least the next seven and a half years (the remaining part of our lease), whether it be in our existing building or in some new shiny abode nearby. But, irritatingly, as is always the way with a marketing message, every now and then we get a very concerned customer calling us up, or coming in, and expressing their horror that they’ve just heard that our building’s to be turned into student accommodation and we may not be able to feed them in the future. After a stiff drink (normally for the customer, not me) and some reassuring conversation, they usually leave us happy, knowing that we’re going to be around for their future needs.
But it leaves me with the feeling that we could always be doing more to counter mis-messages and it’s for that reason that, by the time you read this, we should have changed the colour of the outside of the restaurant. In truth, we need to paint it anyway but I thought we’d take the opportunity to make a change. It’s a bit like if the Northern Echo were to suddenly redesign the way they do the front page. It’d make you sit up and ask: what’s happening?
And that’s what I’m hoping. By changing the colour, it might just say to those misinformed doubters that we’re going to be around for some years yet. It’s a sort of visual thing rather than me being my normally maladjusted loud self. Which, actually, is not really down to my upbringing. I just said it earlier because I’m an attention seeker. But being the first male child does bless me with a naturally loud voice.
Previously published in The Northern Echo