Storm in a tea cup
Published:  03 July, 2009

Local papers up and down the country are the fuel that fires Stop the Week's oven, and we salute the nation's hacks who do the tireless task of breaking the stories that matter. So it is that we embark upon a journey out into the regions, this time alighting in Winchester.

STW owes its debt this time to The Hampshire Chronicle for doing the leg work and crafting this gem. "He was just enjoying a quiet cigarette outside a Winchester club on a warm summer afternoon," is the teasing literary launchpad for a tragic tale of an ill-fated patisserie visit. "But Barry Griffiths' peaceful puff was suddenly interrupted when, mid-smoke, a bowl of cold water was thrown over his head from an upstairs window.

"With drenched clothes and an extinguished cigarette," it continues, "the 61-year-old marched into the offending upmarket French bakery Maison Blanc to demand an apology. But the grandfather was left fuming after a member of staff allegedly laughed at him."

Giving the time-worn response of a wronged ex-serviceman, Mr Griffiths reportedly said: "I served my country in Belfast in 1969 and I didn't come back here to get treated like this. When I went in to complain, a member of staff said he wished he had a camera so he could have sent it in to You've Been Framed. I like a joke but you don't expect to go outside for a cigarette and have a bowl of water tipped on you."

Indeed you do not, Mr Griffiths. It's certainly an "incident" worth going to war over by venting spleen at the local rag. The Maison Blanc outlet must answer for its actions.

But wait! It has, and its response pours a dampener on Mr Griffith's claims of a soaking. Trainee manager Helen Phillips said: "I was cleaning the staff room and there was some water left in a cup. We didn't have a sink, so I threw it out of the window. It wasn't a great deal of water." That only leaves the small matter of why Maison Blanc doesn't have a sink...




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