Utterly Undiscovered – Talking to Yourself

Mmm, juicy king prawns …

I’d managed to get away with just buying a prawn mayo on wheat germ, despite the Greggs assistant’s relentless pitch for me to add ‘anything else’.

On a bench by the grand, soon-to-be-opened Birmingham Library, a young woman sharing the seat looked along and said:

‘You sure that’s good for you?’

‘Hm,’ I said, pausing to consider the well-worthiness of the sandwich, and glancing between it and the woman. Before I could come up with something more original, she looked me straight in the eyes and said:

‘As long as you’re okay.’

‘Yes,’ I said, ‘I’m fine.’

The young woman smiled and turned away. As I homed in on the juicy prawns in the centre, which like the icing on a chocolate cupcake I’d held back for the grand finale, I sensed from her muttering that she might be unwell.

‘Do you know where they come from?’ she then asked.

‘Haven’t the faintest,’ I said, wiping away a run of Marie Rose from my chin and licking my hand. ‘The sea?’

‘Ha ha!’ she said, grinning.

‘Don’t you like prawns?’ I asked.

‘What?’ she said, tensing across to check my question.

‘Not even the giant ones?  Mmm, juicy,’ I mused.

The woman shouldered her bag and stood up. As she walked past, throwing me a measured look, she lowered her head and I heard her mutter, ‘Some old bloke on a bench … no, I’ve just left,’ the wire trailing from her left ear, previously unseen like a newscaster’s, the only clue as to what had just happened.

*

Disjointed conversations were also commonplace in my Bed and Breakfast, visitors rarely getting to hear what I was actually thinking. In this part of my new book, Utterly Undiscovered, my alter ego (My Basil) gets to work as I check with four fat Americans that they’re happy with their rooms:

‘Is everything all right for you?’ I ask.

‘Rooms are a bit small, but they’ll do,’ says the fatter of the two men.

‘I think you’ll find it’s your obesity and the cases.’

‘Tell me, do you get hot water around here?’   copy-cropped-cropped-utterly-front-cover-jpg1.jpg

‘The tap marked “H”, dickhead.’

‘It may take a minute to come through,’ I say, trying not to give away too much disdain; I’d like to hold some back for later.

Paul Costello © April 2013

Utterly Undiscovered – comic Bed & Breakfast Memoir by Paul Costello.

Illustrated by Emma Hames.      

Publication:  spring 2013.    Fineleaf Editions  http://www.fineleaf.co.uk 

ISBN 978-1-907741-30-2

www.paulcostello.me

@PaulCostello8