Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Tapas in Ambleside


June, 2012


We had thick tomato soup and cheesy croutons and it was all very nice, except that they had butchered old hardback books to make a fancy display of fake bookshelves in the gents toilets, and there were pages of vintage Punch magazines papering the walls.
            We listened to two older ladies having their lunch, discussing their book club choices, and the BBC coverage of the Jubilee. ‘That young presenter is lovely on Countryfile but he was out of his depth with the flotilla. None of it was respectful enough, was it?’
            Then it was all talk of hip replacements, and the kind of help you get. ‘With me, they came out to the house and they were measuring everything, checking the distances between things, so I would have my maneuverability. And then they brought out the – you know – the little toilet thing to the house. Delivered it and, when it was finished with, they came and picked it up for the next person to use.’
            It’s been quite different for a mutual friend of the ladies – a male friend - who’s due to have his op soon. The old man has been told that they won’t be coming out to his actual house to see him. ‘They’ve told him – you can come up here and pick up your own toilet. But then, you see, they’re just chucking money away because they’ve told him – we won’t be taking it away for you. You might as well toss it out. It isn’t worth our while.’
            The friend considers this. ‘Is it because he’s a man?’
            ‘No, it’s the cuts. Things are different now. There’s been all the cuts since I went under the knife.’
             ‘What a waste of a good toilet!’
            ‘They said it’s not worth our while sterilizing it for someone else. And the next person would rather have new, anyway. And so you see, this is what I mean. This is where all the money goes. It’s the throwaway society.’
            ‘Hm. It’s gone very quiet in here, hasn’t it? Shall we go into Windermere, to that place with the cake..?’
            ‘We could go mad, couldn’t we? But here, let me give you half for this coffee…’

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(This is an excerpt from 'Tapas in Ambleside', newly available on my Patreon page - www.patreon.com/Paulmagrs )



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