I move the big rocks
now, and yet the man in the paper hat and the apron with the sweat stains
almost the exact size and shape of small continents will call me what he is
going to call me when I order the Friday night chippy tea.
whats worse I am going to let him, too.
The usual queue of
builders straggles out onto the street. I feel self-conscious in the shirt and
tie and the too tight suit. Burtons. 99 quid. A bargain that almost
looked like it was made to measure, back when I was given the promotion. Things
are getting a bit discomforting in the waistband department now, though, and
the waistcoat has been split up the back to deal with the unsightly tummy
bulge. But Im still a damn sight more presentable than the blokes in the
tracksuits in front of me. Not a one of them, I venture, has ever seen the
inside of a gym. Get too close, look down, and Im in danger of falling
into sweaty arse crack. Its a badge of pride, it seems, to have half your
backside on display at all times. I imagine a David Attenborough natural
history documentary, as Im prone to do whilst standing by the door,
glasses steaming up from the fryer, and dreading the moment when Im at
the head of the queue and the man in the paper hat calls me what hes
going to call me.
Im 32, for crying
out loud. 32. I move the big rocks now in the office, since the
promotion. Ive got an office and my name on the door okay,
Blu-tacked right now in case I dont last, like the last chap didnt
last, but my name is there under Chief Executive, and that ought to
give me some status. And yet paper hat and sweat stains will still say it, his
scoop poised over the chips. Hell say it and I will let
But David Attenborough,
though. Hed have a field day with this lot..
their natural habitat of the run-down town centre chippy, we see before us the
hairless cue ball heads of the Worker Drones on the Friday night chip run.
Notice the low-slung brows and the ripples of flesh running up the backs of
their heads. Notice the tattoos across the knuckles one a hilariously
misspelled anarchy. Unless, of course, this creature is a
particular fan of the anchovy, which he wont be, of course, or else why
would he be queueing up for his Friday night cod? Another there with an
unconventional spelling of mother across the back of his neck,
where others have gone for the more traditional tattoo of their own names.
Presumably in case they get lost. Still, to spell mother with only the one
correct letter takes real skill. Almost as much skill as he is putting into
rearranging his genitals down the front of his saggy pants.
the drones grunt and watch them scratch. And then wonder about the bloke in the
suit shuffling on the spot and staring at his cheap shoes as if embarrassed to
be seen amongst them. Wonder which of them is the most remarkable in this
Actually, no, Mr
Attenborough, dont go wondering that. Its obvious who belongs here
and who doesnt. Its obvious that theres something awry with
my presence here, but this is now the Friday night tradition. The Great British
chippy tea. Now that I get to call the shots when it comes to dinners
now that Im the big man moving the big rocks I get to come in
here, whenever I like, and order the big rocks.
Seriously, the pea
fritters in this place are the size of small moons. That was probably what
attracted me. Neil at work him of the train shoes and the office shoes
(hark at him!) called it an event chippy because of the size
of the pea fritters, and my God hes right. Moving big rocks at work
pretty much demands old paper hat there shovelling some planetoid pea fritters
into my chip paper. Im 32. Theyve ordered my name plate for the
door. The house is now in my name. There is absolutely nothing wrong with
I shuffle ahead in the
queue and I can see the grease and the boils on paper hat up there. He glances
up at me under those forest-thick eyebrows of his. I see the gleam even through
Hell do it.
Hell say it. Ill get to the front and Ill open my mouth,
ready to get the order out quickly so he doesnt get the chance, and
hell cut right over me with it, anyway. All because Im not like
these other brutes. All because Ive not got the name of my favourite
football team tattooed across my forehead.
I move the big rocks. I
am the big man now. I get to order the big pea fritters without him saying
The grunting man
mountain in front of me moves aside with his paper-wrapped dinner. Hes
still got one hand down the front of his trackies as if he expects to find
dessert down there.
I step up to the
counter boldly, face set firm in the glare from the bug zapper on the
Paper hat and apron
smiles with chapped lips.
be, young man? he asks, as he always does.
And I draw myself up to
my full five foot three and I square my shoulders and I tell him,
Ill have a small chips, battered sausage and two pea fritters,
please, sir, if you dont mind?
And, of course, he
doesnt mind at all. Not even when I mutter the usual obscenities at the
queue of idiots on my way out of the shop.
Because hes the
guy with the big rocks.
And thats really
why I come here.