by Andrew Bramwell
Normally I wouldn’t be seen dead in a place like this but needs must. A business meeting in some unglamorous region of north Wales, which went on and on, compelled me to miss the last train back to London. So, I found myself booking a night in a Travelodge where the view was of a brick wall, and the most exciting feature of the room was the ironing board. I was tired, irritated and famished.
Which brings me to this place. Here the most startling feature was the blob of something unpleasant in the shape of Denmark etched onto the window. Still, needs must, and I scanned the menu looking for some colour. Alas, shades of beige, pale, greeny-brown seemed the order of the day. I closed my eyes and pointed to something halfway down.
When it arrived, it had the aura of 1950’s austerity Britain. A sausage of indeterminate vintage, a swirl of peas, and a very large single potato. A gravy boat bore a portrait of George VI, and a napkin in case of emergencies. I just looked at it. I mean what else could I do?
There it was, the potato on the plate, looking up at me. Maybe it was my weariness or the retro feel of the restaurant, but I thought it had a face! Not necessarily beautiful or handsome but a face all the same. Soft caramel skin and here and there a pimple, an unfunny lopsided grin. Two sad eyes.
‘Don’t eat me’ it said.
I was taken aback. Scanning the room to see if anyone else had heard, I noticed on the next table a man of ample proportions tucking into a pie enthusiastically.
‘Please don’t eat me’, it pleaded.
There was the slightest shudder of fear, unusual for a vegetable.
What was I supposed to do? Potatoes were being devoured, left, right and centre on every table.
‘Escape quickly,’ I whispered, hoping my voice had not carried above the background hum of conversation.
‘I am not a boy,’ it said. ‘I cannot run like the wind or jump and spring. I am all body and carbohydrate.’
‘And a few lumps,’ I added unhelpfully.
There was a sigh.
I closed my eyes. Some of the other diners were mashing them up with forks. I hoped my potato had not seen these acts of mutilation.
Then the amply proportioned diner glanced across. I could tell he liked his food. He was big for a reason. ‘I’ll have that if you don’t want it’.
He speared it with a knife and swallowed it whole. Just like that. All I heard was a muffled groan.
Well,’ I thought ‘Well’.