I dine in a Chinese restaurant on Croydon High Street. Ukraine versus Scotland plays on a wall mounted television, the most entertaining aspect of which probably being the subtitle's attempt to report on the commentary.
A [tramp/homeless person/street populator/insert term-of-choice] wanders into the restaurant. He ambles from table to table, knocking into each and rebounding from one to the next like a pinball, tramp-talking under his breath.
"Shee fuckin' basted... yous all'll know the fuckhinge bollocks... yous SHITES... this is MA LIFE..."
I look to the waiting staff. They are too timid to even directly address their customers, so unsurprisingly they look petrified and do their best to pretend this isn't happening.
He seemingly catches his balance after a while, and again walks from table to table, hovering next to each one for a while as he incoherntly mumbles something. Each diner takes their lead from the waiting staff and intently studies their food until the tramp accepts he won't be acknowledged and moves to the next.
Eventually my turn arrives, and I concerntrate on chowing my Chow Mein. The tramp doesn't stay with me long, but before he moves off he slams a can of Purple Tin onto my table. He staggers across the restaurant to a large mirror, in which he spends a while engaging himself in conversation.
I glance back to the unopened can of strong lager and sigh: I just know it's going to somehow mean trouble.
After a time, the tramp bids his reflection farewell. He begins to pat his pockets, curses loudly and wheels round.
"Oh, yous fucking JOKING me! You've nee stolen me FUCKING BEER?"
He casts around, and locates his beer, standing out as it does from the bottles of Tsingtao. Soon he is looming over me, but this time he doesn't seem in any hurry to go anywhere. I look up, and see he is staring intently at my food. He has a reckless drunken glaze over his eyes which I recognise from an unruly university friend, and I can predict what is coming.
"Don't!" I firmly say, moving my hands to cover my two plates of food.
He fimly plants his right hand into the empty serving dish I left unguarded, wiping it around in the leftover black bean sauce, and then raising it back to his face where he replusively licks his grubby palm.
"Prick!" I loudly fume.
It is at this point that the waiting staff suppose they should intervene, apologetically simpering as they ask him to leave. I reflect that at least he went for the plate I was done with. I honestly think I would have thrown him through the window had I had tramp-hand embedded into my unfinished rice.
Chef Kenco scores a penalty.
4 weeks ago