Prime Minister Gordon Brown duly called the UK General Election this week, just as Caterer was going to press. The electioneering season is now officially open, and we can expect to see the leaders of the main parties and their lieutenants gurning at us from newspapers, televisions, blogs and billboards for the next five weeks - as if we haven't already see enough of them recently.
More than ever, British politics is premised upon the cult of personality, with party leaders vying to appear personally more likeable, trustworthy and capable than their competitors. The hotly anticipated televised debate between Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg will only underline this emphasis upon façade and perception; meanwhile, the electorate will be left foraging for scraps of policy.
If only the politicians who serve us in Westminster would take a lead from the hospitality industry, which, after all, understands the true meaning of service better than any other.
Take this week's cover star, the director of engineering at the Four Seasons Hampshire, Andy Helmore.
Helmore heads the team responsible for engineering, maintenance and security at his hotel. In many ways, the greatest compliment that can be paid to him, is that he is completely invisible to his guests. Rather like the elves that secretly stitched through the night for the shoemaker in the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, his team quietly goes about its work without ever compromising its hotel's five-star experience.
If any of your local candidates demonstrate even a fraction of the diligence, humility and commitment to customer care shown by Helmore and hospitality professionals every day across the country, I suggest you put an "x" beside their name on 6 May.
l In the coming weeks, we'll be challenging MPs from the three main parties to tell us how they plan to support the hospitality industry, if they get into power. What would you like us to ask them? Go to Caterersearch.com/tabletalk and let us know.
Editor, Caterer and Hotelkeeper