Monday, May 30, 2005

Did I mention they fry toast in this country? Damn straight. No breakfast is complete without a slice of fried bread on the side. You might scoff (I do), but it’s tasty. The full Scottish breakfast is competition for the big greasy southern breakfasts of my youth. I occasionally crave that sweet ill feeling of having the recommended daily dose of calories in one sitting. Yesterday was one of those days. By the local post office is a greasy spoon called ‘Up the Junction’1. They serve a full Scottish breakfast plus tea for four pounds. It really is a good deal especially since I stopped converting to dollars long ago. For four quid, they slap a dish in front of you covered in two eggs, two sausages, two pieces of bacon, two black puddings, a potato scone, and that gorgeous slice of fried bread. All this is covered in baked beans and a side dish of a buttered roll to boot. I was a quarter through the dish when the sweats started. I took a breather and looked around the room. It was completely filled with people dedicated to living a life of ill health. The half dozen of old ladies chain-smoked and gossiped. In between serving customers the waitresses would sit at a table at the back and smoke as well. When they spotted a customer who needed something, they would take huge drags. The cherries would shoot down the cigarette so fast the cigarette itself would momentarily ignite. The inch long ash would hang on and then fall onto the table when they returned it to the ashtray. Everyone was smoking. The young moms with the prams at their sides. The old men bespeckled and toothless reading the tits and murder newspapers. All with cigarettes at which when finished another would be lit. Everyone knew each other. When a person arrived or left. A patter of banter and a chorus of smokers’ cackles inevitably occurred. The only exception was the one young man beside me. His hair hung in greasy clumps. His eyes were nestled into puffy darkened eyelids. The dark circles of which made the fierceness of his blue eyes that more striking. When he left he moved slow and wearily.

All this did not diminish my appetite. Oh no. I had a purpose. I was going to finish this meal. It was only after I left and my clothes and hair were firmly steeped in cigarette aromas that I decided this culinary experience would certainly not be too regular.

1) They’re slogan is “You can get it all . . . Up the Junction!” Not really. But I can dream.

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