Friday, 31 August 2007


I plunged a plate into the murky swamp beneath and tried to erase Viv’s sordid presence from my mind. I regarded the washing brush angrily. It was coated with rancid cooking oil and sat dismally at the side of the sink.
I had been at work for about an hour by now and I felt entitled to a break. I removed my white hat and made my way back to my makeshift bookshelf, situated very prominently beside the work surfaces and deep fryers.
“Hmm,” I said, regarding the books very shrewdly.
In an ideal world Viv would’ve done the decent thing and stood aside while I had a look at the titles, instead of huffing about beside me, chopping salad for the day’s garnishes.
As I examined the books, I was already mildly disturbed by the recollection of yesterday’s fiasco, whereby I spilt a plastic jug of heated custard over the book I’d been midway through, The Pregnant Tycoon.
I seemed to recall hurling the book in question into the far corner of the kitchen by the sinks, and made a mental note to retrieve it after my break. Although it was probably near ruined, I was enormously proud of the size of my collection, and couldn’t bear the thought of being one down.
For the moment though, I just went for the first one that caught my eye:
“I think I will move on to The Good Italian,” I announced very loudly, purely for the benefit of Viv, who wouldn’t know a decent romantic novel from Moses.
I pulled out The Good Italian and made my way to the back room. The back room was separated from the main kitchen. It was where the big chest freezer was located, as well as shelves of tins and pots, and clung to the revolting old cooking oil that covered every surface.
I sat atop the freezer, and after a few minutes of trying to digest the first paragraph, I gave up. The thought of the The Pregnant Tycoon was bothering me to the point where I couldn’t read on.
I thought the best idea would be to put it in the microwave for a few minutes to dry off, then once it’d dried I’d be able to scrape the custard and filth off. After popping it in for a ten minute spell, completely ignoring Viv’s perplexed glare, I was back on the chest freezer, learning of the Italian’s exploits.
By now my break was almost over, and the official line was that yesterday’s washing up needed to be finished before the lunchtime rush. When I say lunchtime, I really mean eleven o’clock, which is when a group comes in for the Early Bird meal deal: a hot meal and a drink for three pounds, provided they have finished eating by eleven-thirty. To me it seemed a very early time to eat dinner, but Daz was very strict. He always snatched away their plates at eleven-thirty on the dot, regardless of whether they were still eating or not.
After glancing very quickly in the direction of the washing up, I decided to take a little bit longer on my break. I went back to the freezer and picked up my copy of The Good Italian and scanned the page for a familiar looking passage.
“Ooh,” I said loudly, settling upon a highly charged occurrence, whereby The Italian “plunged his sword into the moist soil beneath.”
I could tell at the beginning of my second sitting with the Italian, that I was beginning to warm to him.
I leant over, still smiling at the aforementioned sentence, and took out a bottle of milk. I must’ve spent the next half an hour or so in a blissful reverie, drinking milk and reading about this tall, violent Italian, who to all intents and purposes, treated everyone like a puddle he’d stepped in.
At one point Viv poked her gruesome head round the corner to request assistance with the preparations, only for me to silently salute her with the middle finger.

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