As the founder member of the We hate Snow Patrol apart from Spitting Games club I feel that the title is entirely appropriate. Though I quite like that other one, Take Back the City, as well.
Picture the scene. I was out on a pleasant dinner last week. There was me, kind of obvious really, there was the Auf, rather The Auf and there was a friend of his who I'd met a couple of times before as well as her twin sister.
Things could get confusing here as both of the twins have similar names and they begin with the letter C. If I was to go off on a coded name thing, as first invented and utilised by Darwin back in the day, chaos may well ensue, what with C being the original C, that one that, well, you know, the one that is my, well, you know, ahem, girlfriend.
So I figure it's best to refer to the twins as T1 and T2. T1 is the one that The Auf knew first, T2 is the newer one, who's also the older one, albeit by only two minutes. I must tell you that I found it most amusing that T1 calls T2 Akki when there's only two minutes between them. They just looked at me weirdly and laughed in that "he's a bit creepy but let's be polite" way when I mentioned this though.
We were in a restaurant in the heart of the West End, it was a gorgeous sunny summer evening and I was excited to be meeting new diasporic Sri Lankans. If you imagine our table to be a rectangle, which most tables apart from the non rectangular ones are, then I was sitting in the bottom right segment of the rectangle.
The Auf was occupying territory in his majestic way in the top right, T1 was in the bottom left and T2 was in the top left. That just about sets the scene for you. Oh, and the tablecloth was white.
It's an interesting thing when you go for a meal with people you don't know very well n'est-ce pas? When I'm familiar with them there's rarely any awkwardness about bill paying. It's either split equally between all parties or someone picks up the tab knowing that another fellow will pick it up next time, but not really being bothered about it anyhow.
Were I alone with The Auf I'd have had no hesitation in buying dinner or letting him buy me dinner, feeling quite fluid about it, but this was a new group and things were different. As we perused the menu I found myself going through that mental stuff, wondering what people would order, if we'd split the bill equally and therefore if it would be bad if I ordered more than the others and all those permutational things.
I'm not sure if other people have all of these complicated issues going through their mind or if they just read the menu and order what they want. How can I know this stuff when I rarely understand what's going on in my head alone?
I did a bit of asking around and established that everyone was going for a noodle type of dish, perhaps each person was waiting for someone to say the words on the tip of my tongue:
"I think I'll have the spicy lamb curry, the mixed fried rice and just some vegetables. Oh and a small salad as I like to be healthy."
I didn't. The words remained on the tongue and I held back and ordered pad thai. I followed the lead of T2 and asked for some extra chilli.
We carried on with our chat and the food arrived. And this is where it gets interesting.
I did that thing of mixing chilli sauce and peanuts and all sorts of random crap into the pad thai to make it taste better and commenced on the eating, interspersed with nuggets of good quality conversation.
You know when you're with someone, happily chatting away and enjoying things with not a care in the world and then inadvertently something solid comes flying out of their mouth and lands nearby? Something like a chewed up bit of food and it always lands in the most awkward of places like in an eye, on your face or in your food.
Well that's exactly what happened. I turned to T1 and saw the object out of the corner of my eye as it exited the mouth at the same time as a word. I'm sorry but I can't recall the precise word. The missile landed about an inch from T1's plate of uneaten food.
Ever the gent, I continued the conversation as if nothing had happened. The little lump of chewed food sat next to the plate looking totally massive but doing nothing whatsoever. I'm pretty sure The Auf and T2 had also spotted the episode but no one said a word. It was all very British as we deliberately ignored the incident and carried on as if nothing had happened, ironic considering not one of us had an ounce of British blood running through our veins.
The worst thing was that I'd caught it in my peripheral vision as it was launched. I knew exactly who'd been the spitter and where it landed and I so didn't want to be the culprit.
But I was.
That's how I remember that the tablecloth was white. For I spent every available second glancing at the remnant hoping that it would evaporate or dissolve. It didn't. It just sat there looking like a Maldivian atoll in that bright blue water. I felt sorry for T1 but what's a chap supposed to do in these situations?
I couldn't be sure that anyone else had seen it happen so a confession followed by a quick wipe might well have seen me confess to a crime that no one knew had taken place. We weren't familiar enough with each other for one person to go
"Euurrrgh look what he did" and make a joke.
T1, had she seen it, which I'm sure she did, probably didn't feel comfortable to wipe the thing away, risking embarrassing me.
We carried on eating but I'd been so put off my stride that I couldn't finish my food. I had to go to make a phone call and, when I returned, T1 had placed her napkin on the table covering the offending object. I don't know if it was deliberate or just because she'd finished her meal but I cared not, the thing was concealed, that was the important issue.
When the bill came I resisted the urge to ask to pay less as I'd spat so much of my food out and we split it four ways. The maths was complicated but when you hang with The Auf you know there's a chap present with the brain to handle it.
What was it my Mum used to say about not talking with your mouth full?
And T1 occasionally reads my blog I believe. So if she didn't spot it happen at the time she probably knows now.
Apart from all of that it was a damn fine evening. At least no one spat at me.