Have you ever wonder what would happen if Bret Easton Ellis wrote restaurant reviews rather than increasingly not-very-good novels? Well wonder no longer. When I penned this, I’d just re-read Ellis’s first three books over the course of a week. I’m not going to lie, it might have had an impact on how I wrote my article about one of the crappy cafes on Kingsland Road. All I can say is I’m sorry, and normal service will resume in the next review. In the meantime, people are afraid to merge…
We’re tired, hungry, hungover and sitting in the cafe down the road from my flat. It’s extremely bright and I’ve been re-reading Less Than Zero. The author’s sparse prose seem to infect everything. Jack, Melissa, Nat and Loui struggle with The Sun’s crossword. Without purpose in 9 letters. For some reason we end up talking about haikus as we wait for the bored-looking waitress to come over and take our order. Hungry nomads wait. The summer birds disappear again. Soon winter will come.
Chatter about the night before. A party in a pool hall somewhere up the road. The argument Jack had with a doorman who wouldn’t let him come in because he’d arrived too late and the place was about to close.
The drinks arrive and my coffee is scolding hot. The black liquid tastes bitter. It’s been burned. I stick to the Diet Coke I had to buy on the way to the restaurant to fight off a sudden wave of nausea. The bile rising in my gullet during the 100 yards we stumbled from my front door. Away from a room full of scattered beer cans half-full and the windows wide-open to allow the air the circulate.
I snap back as Jack and Nat argue about the answer to one of the clues. Something about migratory birds. The food arrives. Plates heavy with fried food; the toast slick with marge. My stomach turns. I remember how we used to call the the type of sausage in front of me on my plate an “anus sausage”; the cheapest of the cheap. Made from the things people don’t want. For some reason I’ve always found that strangely comforting. Their pappy texture and bland taste soothing me. A blanket of people’s off cuts.
They do it again now. Far better than the fat-drowned bacon or the out-of-place burger sat alongside the flabby brown tube of mystery meat. The only thing that is more comforting is the black pudding – the blood congealed like my head this morning. With the chips, the food starts to do it’s work and I start to feel human again.
Across the table, Jack is struggling. I watch as he pushes his food about the plate, barely touching his Set 3, eventually admitting defeat and passing my his sausage. Loui too is unimpressed, managing just half her vegetarian wrap before pushing the plate away. Unfinished.