Ties and jumpers

by gurdeepmattu

We’re dining at The Cinnamon Club, a place we can’t really afford but there’s a special offer which always makes you conspicious but maybe that’s the point.  There’s only one woman in here, eating, and three businessmen drink coffee and have their petit fours near me and say things like “well, they are basically spongers” and I momentarily get distracted from Walt Whitman talking about chest hair.  I get lost near Westminster beforehand because my sad already faded print out of a map has no river on it.  I have to run to make up some time but it’s hard in Loakes that are too heavy for me if I realistically analyse it, and I sit down and there it is, a tap water and a menu.  Vittles is late, but he’d said he would be.  I am wearing a grey tie with a white Zara shirt, he is wearing a grey jumper with a soft collar shirt underneath it and we eat and then we walk down Horseferry to Millbank and up Whitehall to Leicester Square via Charing Cross Road, where it’s time to get a Sidecar in a cocktail bar.  We are the first people in there and one of the barmen is hammering a nail into a wall to hang a picture.  It smells, like it always does in this place, slightly of vomit. But the price is right, and so is the ambience, or so we say and it’s okay.  We talk, and talk and it’s good.  There’s the next round: Espresso Martinis, and then I have some tea, and then Raph arrives and I’m surprised by how much I feel and how much it totally throws me off my stride and I am not sure what to say and I go to the toilet more than I strictly need to get some headspace and there’s a girl doing her lipstick in the communal mirror and a man and I keep remembering the girl with the incredibly tan arms sat at the bar with her date at Baltic on Thursday, where we sat, the Humanities Editorial department of a well-respected international publishing house and yet there’s a crackle of electricity somewhere and something about the surface of things: Pierogi arrive and people are distracted and someone has left half of a flatbread on the plate for some reason and then we go Jack’s and its heaving and no one can really concentrate and there are fragments of song in off-tone manly voices on the patio and I guess it’s okay and someone gets me a pint of Guinness and it doesn’t really taste of Guinness but that’s okay and I’m not sure if I spell Guinness right but that might be okay if you think about it, and I have run out of cigarettes and that’s okay too because I don’t smoke and the DJ is spinning the decks but when I go to the toilet and see him on the balcony he is playing his music off of an Apple laptop and that ultimately makes me feel slightly sad for a few seconds and then I walk carefully down the stairs —

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