There I was, like any good Brit, sitting in my local Indian restaurant quietly waiting for my takeaway. The door opened and in walked what can only be described as, well, a working class salt of the earth type of fellow. The sort of chap who you wouldn't want to meet in a dark, or even a well lit alley. But, this was an Indian so things were probably going to be friendly.
He sat down opposite me at the waiting for your takeaway and reading The Sun table. I was already seated and busy reading the Sun. There was working class muck all over him, the stuff that the blokes who work on building sites accumulate throughout the day. Plaster, brick dust, urine and the like.
The waiter tried to give him a menu and he said no, he knew what he wanted. I tried to look like I wasn't listening as he ordered.
"I'll have a chicken Buriyani, two naans. Yeah and some poppadums and a couple of bottles of lager please mate."
"They're quite large bottles" said the waiter. (660 ml, I've just googled it to check)
"Yeah that's fine, two please."
"Are they to takeaway?"
"No I'll have them while I wait."
He had my begrudging respect. I could drink two of these in a week and I'd be shitfaced. I had a slight feeling that the beers would turn up and he'd complain that they were too big but deep down I knew that wasn't going to happen.
The order was placed with the certainty of a man who eats a lot of Indian food (I should know). No menu was needed, any hesitation was merely because he was deciding what to eat, not what was on the menu. There are two characteristics of the traditional working class Brit; they hate foreigners and they know their Indian food.
So I was surprised, and remain it, to hear the next bit.
"Anything else Sir?"
The working class man, we'll call him Tarquin, thought for a bit.
"No that's okay, the buriyani comes with rice doesn't it?"
"Yes it does Sir"
"That's fine then."
All that certainty, yet he wanted to know if a buriyani "came with rice". What the fuck? I can't figure it out now even. I mean, if you didn't know what a buriyani is then fair enough. But he knew, he ordered one without looking at the menu. Mad.
Still, I sat, watched the waiter arrive with the two large bottles of Cobra and pour one out. Tarquin didn't bat the faintest of eyelids at the sight of all this lager and before I could say a word half a pint had gone down in one.
I finished reading my paper and offered it to him. It's always good to bond with these chaps just in case he decides to beat me up randomly one night then recognises me and changes his mind.
"Nah ta mate, it's just the usual crap in there, same everyday"
I nodded and replied, doing my best to sound quite common. I can't remember what I said but the sentence definitely contained the words "fuck" and "tits." And "Kate" too.
We bonded and had a chat about our future Queen. Tarquin said he thought it was a load of rubbish, they were tiny anyhow. Besides over in France they all go topless all the time anyhow. Then he got up, popped his head outside the door and spoke to a small thing. I realised it was his dog and wondered if I'd wondered into a Dickens novel. When he answered the call on his iPhone I figured it probably wasn't.
He proceeded to have a chat with someone. Most of it consisted of him telling the friend that he was talking to him from his new iPhone 5, that he got it a couple of days ago and was one of the first people to get it.
"Honestly mate, have I ever lied to you?" he said convincingly.
The call finished and I did my best to check out the new iPhone. It was old and dilapidated. If it was new, then it sure had taken a battering in two days. An even bigger achievement seeing as it wasn't even out two days ago.
Tarquin looked at me.
"Ha ha, I told the cunt that I've got one of those new iPhones and he believed me" I laughed with him, as you do. By now he was on his second full pint of lager while I was still finishing my first half.
We chatted some more. He did have an iPhone, just not a new one. I told him about my iPad, we moaned about the state of the world a bit and, in the time it took me to drink one pint, he'd sunk just over three and probably would have been good to drive.
Tarquin's meal came and he bid me goodnight. I said to him that I hope he enjoys his meal and him and dog strolled off into the night. I would have shaken his hand but I'm reasonably sure chaps like that don't wash so I gave it a miss.
Salt of the earth though. Just saying.
Somawathiya, September 2016
1 week ago