Fitzalan – Out and About

The Tipping Point

An eye opening experience! why do people tip so sparingly?

So there we were all getting along well, my wife’s family, both lawyers, one a partner at a firm, my wife works for a marketing regulator and I am a writer. We keep up with current affairs and have children so there is always animated conversation, My brother in law has a great sense of humour, All well and good. Then, the bill arrives. Okay, so we have been on holiday before with them, We have a card that we preload and agree spending.

Of course my brother in law always chooses the most expensive item on the menu and we agree to go mid-range on the wine. All as expected. At the end of the meal, the waitress leaves the bill.

“Is service included?” I ask,

“No, it’s up to the individual.”

Tipping Point

Oh my goodness, she is relying on my brother in law to be reasonable, His friends would call him so, He has a three figure salary, he is a partner in a law firm, surely he will want to share some of his good fortune with someone on the smallest of wages? There is a cost of living crisis, her bills are rising, she works in a country pub, she might have to drive to work.

Not a bit of it.

“Just round it up.”

That’s why he suggests to everyone. It’s 66,00 and he wants to give her a 4.00 tip, Now, I am no mathematician but that is less than ten per cent, Our waitress poured our wine, brought all five us our meals on time and together and brought a jug of tap water and glasses unasked. In short, she did nothing wrong and everything right.

Even my son who is a student tips 12.5 per cent when and if he goes out and he insists we do the same, too, as a minimum.

My brother in law missed the memo – humanity binds us – we should do our best and utmost to help one another in small and large ways, do whatever we can. Do we really need to insult people by being so mean with a tip.

My mother in law.


“It’s difficult to know what to do isn’t it?”

“Well, if you can’t afford to pay a decent tip maybe you should eat at home,” I replied.

I could understand her at 86 and, being a lawyer’s wife from the age of eighteen, never working, that she might not understand how the world works but my brother in law, could he really be that self-centred?, I was stunned.

Don’t get me wrong, from then on we ensured that we tipped 12.5 per cent everywhere we went, even tough he made barbed comments about groups being charged ten per cent. There were five of us. He still ordered the most expensive item on the menu but at least he reformed when we explained that his nephew who worked delivering pizza in his university holidays always tipped 12.5 per cent, at least.

I really enjoyed their company and it was a good holiday. Five days we were together and each evening I offered my brother in law a drink and each time he accepted knowing it was not on the holiday card, but it was my money, not on one, single occasion did he offer to buy me a drink. I do well as a tutor and author but I am not a partner in a law firm. His kids are grown up, we are still supporting one of ours. To him I say, if you cannot afford a decent tip, stay home, eat at home, save money that way.

What do you think?

Tipping Point


Written by Michael Fitzalan

About the Author

Michael Fitzalan has been writing adventure stories since he was fourteen. He lives in south London, where he was born. His Irish parents were doctors and they settled on the West Side of Clapham Common and had six children in quick succession. The youngest started writing thrillers at fifteen. He published his first fiction book, a romance, The Taint Gallery.

The book is now out of print. However, Michael went on to write: Switch, Waterwitch, Major Bruton’s Safari, Innocent Proven Guilty, Half Past Kissing Time, Seveny Seven, Carom and Ad Bec, a children’s book, all considered entertainments, a phrase coined by Graham Greene.


Michael Fitzalan’s first novel gained cult status and here are some others: Waterwitch was a hit with those who have ever sailed; two brothers battle storms and Spanish support for the Malvinas in an attempt to meet up with their girlfriends in Ibiza. They have to get from The Algarve to Ibiza, all very straightforward until engine failure and storms threaten to sink all their plans. The Taint Gallery tells the story of a modern Romeo and Juliet; the story is set in Cheslea and Fulham, not Verona, nevertheless, it is a doomed relationship. The book was shunned by big publishers for its highly charged and graphic sexual content and the small publisher who produced the book folded, copies are rare. A reprint is planned for its twentieth anniversary next year; it is still as pertinent and shocking today as it was back in 1996. Switch is an amazing mixture of Franz Kafka realism yet it reads like a Raymond Chandler thriller. Joe Ederer falls for a French girl but he is recovering from being dumped by his English girlfriend. A fish out of water in London, he chases her home only to be rejected. He hooks up with a suffocating drug addict and that is when his nightmares begin. Major Bruton’s Safari is the story of innocents abroad; a family invited to celebrate the coronation of the Kabaka of Buganda become indoctrinated into the ways of Africa. With an acerbic observer on hand, the family experience the warmth and ways of Uganda that help them to understand themselves a little better. IPG – Innocent Proven Guilty is about a teacher, Philip Hayward whose brother sold their shared flat and ran off to America with the proceeds. Philip bumps into his brother’s ex-girlfriend and she tells him his brother is back. Racing to the address she gave him, he arrives to find his brother with a knife in his back. As he leaves, his shoes leave bloody footprints and the police come looking for him. Carom – Finn McHugh and his team take on a swindler and smuggler, Didier, who is depraved in so many ways. They know he is smuggling art and drugs; he must be stopped before others take him out. The Cubans, want him dead, Finn wants to break the smuggling ring. Who will win? Remember the Fifth November – Guy Fawkes was innocent, Catesby was a broken man who brought his children up in the Anglican faith, yet Robert Cecil arranged for them to be portrayed as terrible villains. With a spy service second to none and with moles everywhere how could someone hatch a plot like this and fail to be discovered? The answer, they could not. Read the truth! One – Bullying does not go on anymore in schools. I would not bet on it. Weep as you read the terrible story of a school bully and the misery he dispenses to all the boys. Then, cheer as one of his victims takes revenge. Take a trip to a prep school in a time when kids built tree houses, danced and swung on Tarzan ropes!

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