Take those people at table 12. They win tonight’s prize and that’s going some considering the crowd of customers in here.
When they came in, there were four of them in two couples. Nothing odd in that happens all the time. And they sat women facing each other and men facing each other. Much easier to chat like that, so again a common social convention. But instead of speaking across the table, both couples sat chatting to their neighbour instead. Now a usual dinner party sees all guests chatting to all others and when they pair off in conversation it tends to be men together and women together. The men discuss football and manly stuff, moving quickly onto tits or shagging when the women disappear to the bathroom.
This four was like two completely unrelated couples plonked next to each other because the place was crowded.
Their clothes were odd too, like something from an old film or a fancy dress party. The men both wore trilbies and long pale macs. They wouldn’t have looked amiss with pencil-thin moustaches, notebooks and gumshoe accents, resting leather-soled shoes on a desk and tipping back on two chair legs as they pondered a taxing clue.
The women looked just like what the men might term a ‘doll.’ Each must have used two bottles of bleach to get their hair that white a shade of blonde. Platinum, they would probably call it. Their make-up was identical, smooth skin, thick black lines and lashes and lips so red they would make blood look pallid. Every ten minutes or so one or other would slip a small gold compact from her handbag and press a little powder to her perfect nose. All that was missing to complete the look was a tipless cigarette to tap against the metal case, but this is a no smoking establishment.
The men ordered for the women, extraordinary these days except perhaps where only he speaks the language used on the menu, but this restaurant is strictly English. The men had big rare steaks, so blue they almost still mooed. Their women had small green salads with a piece of boiled chicken and both left some of their meal despite the meagre size.
Once they had eaten, the men dismissed their women, but having nowhere to move to they remained quiet and placid at the table. The men fell into talk about business and money, not even glancing at the women, who did not exchange a single word with each other. Both looked content to sit and wait for the men to remember they were not alone, even though they showed no sign that would be imminent. Two coffees were ordered, followed by two brandies, then two more. Cigars apiece would have finished the look but they neither produced any nor asked for them.
The man facing the door called for the bill and paid with a roll of notes pulled from his trouser pocket. Their coats were brought and each man helped wrap his lady’s fur about her shoulders before holding the other’s coat and topping off with their hats. One wiped his brim at the remaining customers and nodded and they all left.
I mean, who on earth eats boiled chicken in a restaurant like this?