Everyone At Some Point

Bournemouth was dark and breezy and trousers-wise I was strictly business. Because I forgot to pack the jeans. I've never been casual below the waist anyway. It's hard to find the town centre if you walk in the wrong direction. The first night there was silent lightning below the clouds above the sea. Lone cars stopped on the road to watch it. Lone men sat at tables in bright pubs watching the lone cars watching it. I lone sat in Wagamama at a table with twenty-five absent people. I got smiled at a lot, by the staff and the people at the other tables. I couldn't help thinking this wasn't necessary. Maybe the smilers were somehow vicariously amused by the amusing book I was reading, maybe the brisk dialogue was blasting out of my scalp. More likely the smiles were acknowledging the blue ink that'd gone from my pen to my pocket to my fingers to my face without me noticing until hours after, in the hotel room, burping. Wagamama: you should've told me. They'd've told me in Tampopo. They'd've rushed over with some helpful fluid to wash the stain or drown the sorrow in Tampopo. And then they'd've asked me what I was even doing eating evening bowl-food without a zesty and mysterious companion. I rang them to verify this and they said A: where've you been lately, and but before you answer that, where has she been lately, and B: we welcome any facial blemish regardless of hue, as you well know, your face having displayed many alarming and unnatural spasms of colour in the long but not long enough time we've known it, sir. And the hues, lately, have been intense, we've heard, please accept our vigorous sympathies and consider buying a gift voucher for your famished pals this Christmas. And before Bournemouth I'd been swept up in a compressed-head delirium and spent all night believing my eyes were about to burst like squeezed peas, and every change of position made it worse, and all I'd wanted to do was to hammer nails into my face until whatever was in me was gone and I could enjoy a wet heap of something with not too much coriander in it. Wagamama didn't press me for these details. Their dish of nuanced liquid, tender dead things and small long hot things was fine, but in and around and during and amongst and after it I couldn't detect a single concern for my wellbeing.