Everybody makes mistakes I guess, but this was one time when I would have preferred not to do things with so much style.
In retrospect, things started to go seriously wrong the moment I entered The Country Kitchen. The place was more brightly lit than a pathologist’s laboratory, tiled like a school baths ( an impression helped by the restless primary colours which assaulted the eye like a game show set ) and filled with more annoyingly shiny tables than music journos in Wendy James. Anyway, I succeeded in ordering a shallow cappuccino from a pair of high-mileage members of the Salman Rushdie Depreciation Society using a language resembling English, but without the verbs, clicked a course through the joint which looked so convincingly like the passenger deck on a cross- channel ferry it took all my concentration to walk in a straight line, and sat down.
At the latter task I was less successful, the table and chair being fixed to the floor, presumably in case of theft, and shaped with an exciting “designer” flair without actually allowing a human leg to pass between them. At least not one that bends in the usual places. All I succeeded in doing was irrigating the formica with coffee only slightly warmer than Jimmy Knapp’s handshake, and catching the eye of the bimbo.
The fact that I was looking right at her may or may not have had been related to the blue PVC mini skirt she didn’t so much wear as keep warm and pliable.
It is, of course, virtually impossible to actually relax in a fast food emporium. I found relief in dismantling a plastic palm and reassembling it in an order which evolution hadn’t quite got to yet, but it wasn’t enough to prevent questions from forming themselves in my mind. Like why one sees oneself reversed left-right in a mirror, but not upside down, or why things are back-to-front when the right way up, but the right way round when upside-down. No wonder I had trouble shaving.
I supposed it was just one of those great imponderables, like what Mary and Joseph did with the gold, who gave all those silly names to sea areas on the shipping forecast, and what’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this ( or what am I doing in a place like this if I’m looking for a nice girl… )?
I guess she belonged to the “if you’ve got it, flaunt it” school. Trouble was, I was looking for the “if you’ve got it, share it out with the guy in the trenchcoat” kind. Rutger Hauer said that friends are people who turn up in a bathing suit with a six-pack, but I figured if I had a friend like her, I’d be prepared to forego the bathing suit.
A shot rang out. Well, it didn’t really, but it’s one hell of a way to start a paragraph. It was “The Chicken Song” that did it, a single that landed on the Number One spot like a Pan-Am Jumbo. Well, whatever the reason, I was returned to the real world, and if it isn’t the real world, then just whose idea of a joke is it and could I please spend some time in a different one, one where the underdog wins and relationships with women work out.
Even the dudes who wrote the Bible realised that, sod the fight between right and wrong, we mortals go for the underdog every time – like Robin Hood, who was tumbled by a judicial system less enlightened than our own ( where you are guilty until proven more guilty ), they cast Christ as an outlaw and the tale has survived centuries.
Littered around this starship diner were a curious assortment of irregularly sized, shaped and presumably hungry individuals who blinked in the light, chattered rapidly, shifted from one buttock to the other and generally looked unlike the impossibly tall, dog walking, toy-town figures who usually inhabited interior design land.
There was the biker, wrapped round a cup of coffee like an arctic explorer in a black leather chrysalis, aiming well ground knee scrapes at anyone who looked in his direction. There was the Next executive with the LSD tripping sperm tie, skate- boarding youth whose fluorescent shorts seemed to know who to have a good time even if he didn’t, and the girl whose dress and shoes looked eager for an evening out and a night off, but she wasn’t going far on a Belgian bun and a coke.
The dial on my wrist said ‘Cartier’, but the fraudulent Taiwanese bastard said it was later than the Ayatollah. I made my move.
I guess it was the depth of her voice that gave it away though.
Black Sunday, the Northern equivalent of ‘Shock Around the Clock’, will be on again next year. Now describing itself as ‘the UK horror film festival’, it’s in two chunks : the 17th February at The Metro, Ashton-under-Lyme, Manchester and the 24th February at The Salon Cinema, Hillhead, Glasgow. Each festival will contain ten horror films, previously unreleased here, though it’s not clear whether there’ll be an overlap between the two or not. Tickets for each cost 17.50, or 15 for students and last year’s attendants. For more details and a booking form, send an SAE to:-
Black Sunday, 70 Thatch Leach Lane, Whitefield, MANCHESTER, M25 6EW