Westminster Food Hard to Swallow

Sainsbury’s costing the earth ? Tesco bill soaring (serves you right for shopping there in the first place) Even Morrisons starting to get a bit toppy ? Don’t even mention Waitrose or M&S.

No worries: help is at hand: Get yourself a proper job and when you’re not claiming for the weekly shop for your lover’s second home, grab yourself a subsidised meal in this terrific little restaurant I’ve discovered in Westminster. You’ll find fiddling your expenses a lot easier job to do on a cheap, full stomach.  And you can always write off breakfast as a business expense too !


The Git & The Galla

Sir Ivor Cullen and his wife Betty had ham hock for supper last night. I know this because yesterday afternoon I was sitting in front of a guy that was off to dine with them later and I overheard him telling his friends.

In Buenos Aires (that’s in Argentina) a salad starter, followed by a 400g lomo steak (that’s spelt l-o-m-o), with sauteed potatoes, a glass of red wine, then finally rice pudding washed down with a desert wine costs £12.45. Were you aware of that ? No ? Oh well you should have been with me yesterday because you would have learnt all this and more, all from the same dull bloke.

Carluccio’s in St John’s Wood don’t take reservations for lunch – they don’t get very busy. A bottle of Wolf Blass Unoaked Chardonnay costs £22 in Tescos, yet one’s able to buy a bottle of, albeit a plastic bottle here today for just £19. I think that’s very reasonable, don’t you ? He did. It was, he said “one of my favourites”.

So where was I yesterday ? At a meeting of my wine club ? No. Cookery class ? Afraid not. Dining with friends at the Savoy Grill ? Not even close. I was, in fact, watching a cricket match at Lords cricket ground. Or rather I was trying to watch a cricket match, but my concentration and enjoyment was constantly ruined by this bloated English dullard sitting behind me, ‘entertaining’ friends or clients, though who could have been entertained by this fat git, Thomas Lord alone knows.

Ever been at the cinema when a bloke sitting behind you comments or commentates on every scene, recites every punchline or preempts every key scene ? Well you get the gist of my morning at the Home of Cricket. This bloke was boring. I mean he was DULL. Every shot, every ball, every catch, every run: not only did he have a comment or opinion on it, it was clear he knew absolutely sod all about cricket (though I guess I would have to bow to his gastronomic expertise. Judging by the size of him, he worked hard at it). He was wrong or boring or both on a number of subjects. When he produced his holiday snaps from his trip to Buenos Aires, my jaw hit my knees.

I lost count of how many facts and laws of the game he got wrong, and how ignorant he was, well, about everything really. I just know that when he explained what made Shane Warne “one of my favourite swing bowlers” I went for a pint. On my return to my seat he was waxing lyrical about the time in South Africa when he shared a whole bottle of sherry with “some coloured chaps” who were “frightfully charming”, then segwayed into an explanation of the apartheid system and why the coloureds and blacks had come out of it all right in the end. I got up and went for another pint.

The day didn’t going well from the get-go. The Aussies were in town and that only ever means one thing: legions of yellow-coloured cobbers, lugging eskis of laaager around with them bellowing encouragements and insults to their team in equal measure. One such groups of individuals had parked themselves near me. Within a couple of tinnies their leader (another fatty) was droaning such gems as “C’mon Ricky, yer big Galla !” or “Nurdle, nurdle ! Nurdle, nurdle! ” It was as if he’s swallowed a vuvuzela. He was painful to listen to.

He also fancied himself as an authority, not just on cricket, but on the Lords ground itself. He’d obviously been here once before and didn’t hold back taking his companions on a virtual tour of the ground, all conducted from where his fat arse was perched in row 2 of the stand and punctuated by gulps of the amber nectar. Again, his knowledge of the history of the ground was less than spot-on, but that didn’t stop him relaying the ‘facts’ that the Ashes were brought back to England by WG Grace (nope) and the ground was named after the House of Lords who used to play cricket matches here in the 1800s. Wrong again, mate.

Thankfully for all in the vicinity, he and his mob decided to move to a more sparsely populated part of the stand, presumably so they could spread out their cheeks in comfort, and my sanity and eardrums were saved. Until Sir Bufton Tufton sat himself behind me, that is.

Then came the last straw- he started telling jokes.
“One of my favourite examples of chitchat on the field – the Australians call it sledging- is the one when there was a rather rotund bowler bowling at some batsmen-or-other when the batter asked the bowler how many jaffa cakes he ate? ‘I have one every time I sleep with your wife’ retorted the bowler. Very funny, very funny”
I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone cock-up a story quite so spectacularly. As sledging stories go, that one’s probably the funniest and most famous, and only a complete berk like the bloke behind me could have fcked it up so completely. It really took the biscuit. Or the jaffa cake.

I made my excuses, picked up my rucksack, and watched the rest of the match on the tv in the bar. As I stood there watching the match, in peace and content to be 200 yards away from the Git & the Galla, I wondered how Sir Ivor Cullen and his wife Betty were getting on? I reckoned they’d probably made good progress with the meal preparations as they had been without the distraction of their evening’s dinner guest’s fascinating stories, a pleasure enjoyed by us poor sods in that section of the stand at Lords today. I just hoped that when he finally arrived at their house, if he was as charming and as entertaining as he’d been to us, Sir Ivor would insert a ham hock into him. I suspect that wouldn’t be one of his favourites.

Dan Dan the Lavatory Man


One night last week a bloke talked to me in the pub toilet. Yes, exactly, that’s what I thought. He actually tried to hold a conversation with me while I was going about my business. Yes. He did.

Most of you reading this will fully understand the distress this caused me, but in case a woman has accidentally logged in, I shall explain: Blokes don’t talk to each other in the loo. Never. Never, ever, ever. It’s just not done. I could be standing there at the urinals with my best mate to my left, my dad to my right and my long-lost brother washing his hands at the sink behind me and no words would be exchanged until we left the Gents. Protocol is to have one hand (or in my case two hands) on your willy and stare straight ahead reading the graffiti or the very amusing adverts for online poker on the wall in front of you. But whatever happens KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT, YOUR OPINIONS TO YOURSELF AND YOUR EYES FRONT !!!

A public lavatory is a place where we men feel at our most vulnerable. We’re not the greatest communicators at the best of times, so the chances of indulging in idle persiflage fly out of the window the minute we get our winkles out. Surely, ladies, you recognise that in your man? I put it to you (if you’ll excuse the image) that if he gets his thingy out in your presence he’s unlikely to want to talk to you about last night’s footy results, or the queue at Tescos. I hear tell that, while in the Ladies, the fairer sex do indeed partake in friendly chat and banter (of what nature, I know not) and they seem to get along just fine in there. Maybe it’s a little sanctuary, free from those arseholes outside, where girl can speak to girl without being interrupted or patronised by boy? Bless her pretty little head. No such conversation does, or rather should take place in a blokes’ khazi.


So this bloke—let’s, for the sake of looking for another joke, call him Dan— so this bloke Dan spoke to me in the Gents. I have no idea what he said, I was in shock. All I know is that it wasn’t “Alright, mate?” or “Ooooooooh, that’s better”. No, it was in the form of an opening line of a conversation. I just heard noise, my brain couldn’t process the information. Virtually all of my body froze, though part of it went limp and shriveled. I zipped up, nodded politely (I’m British, after all) and left immediately and quickly, and what I had started in the urinal was left to dribble down the inside of my trouser leg as I fled.

So what was I afraid of? That the man was a homosexual? That he was about to “lend me a hand”? That he was the Barrymore of Blackheath and I’d end up emotionally and internally scarred for life? Don’t talk so much Tommy Rot! I have no leanings in that direction. I’ve always been a big hairy hetro (whatever I look like to you) and have no wish to catch the other bus. I don’t even know if this bloke IS gay. My Gaydar doesn’t work. He may just be very friendly, though a tad inappropriate. Having said that, I’ve never either been worried by or about gay men or women. I have several openly gay friends (yes, I know they all say that, but I actually do) and have never felt threatened by them or had the inkling that they were gonna goose me at any minute (their loss, actually). I like to think I view them with the same contempt as I do all my friends. It’s still your round at the bar, mate, even if you ARE a bit light on your loafers. You’re all the same in my eyes, as long as you do your bit in the office, laugh at my jokes and understand the lbw laws. It’s not as if you’re Welsh or anything.

But maybe this is all a front? Maybe, deep down, I’m scared? A long time ago I spent the night round a mate’s flat after we’d gotten a bit squiffy that evening. I was woken up in the spare room the following morning by my pal delivering a cup of tea. Having placed the cup by the bed, he left the room saying, “There you go mate” says he “I’ll just go get myself sorted, then I’ll give you a shower”
“WHAT!!!!!!”— I’d sat bolt upright in the bed, my head thumping, back in spasm, legs shaking like leaves, willy recoiling into my body. Fortunately I’d misheard him. What he’d actually said was “I’ll give you a shout”. Phew! He’s a big bloke and could have quite easily showered me against my will.

It annoys me, my reaction to these situations. I’ve always considered myself a good Socialist, with a capital ‘S’ and a liberal with a small ‘l’, inside this beer-swilling, rugby-loving, pickled-egg eating oaf, there’s a kind, sensitive, modern man screaming to get out and mince about a bit. I remember getting severe stick from my city mates when I wore a red ribbon pin badge for world AIDS day, and got accused of being either a “faggot” or a “poof-lover”. Well, what would you expect from that lot? But I’m surely above that, aren’t I? I sure am. Perhaps it was just that on the two occasions above I was taken by surprise ? Or maybe it is just what we’ve discussed: that no man feels safe with his penis al fresco? I’ve been mulling over this all week, about how stupid my immediate reaction was, and how I shall make every effort to change.

Dan was in the pub last night again (hiding behind three Mancunians). I didn’t spot him until he was standing right next next to me, when I turned to be almost nose-to-nose with him. “Hello mate, alright?” he asked.
I blushed “Yes mate…great… thanks”. I left for another pub. I have a new friend and I’m being an arse about it. What a wanker.