Let's have a go at this daylogging thingy then....
8am this morning. I find myself in McDonalds. I'm out of my depth, I don't usually eat in McDonalds but my usual cafe was full to bursting and I didn't have time to wait for the kitchen bods to work their way through the backlog until they got to my order. And the next nearest eating house is McDonalds (isn't it always?). There is no one at the counter, good start. I glance up at the huge illuminated menus. Bacon and Egg McMuffin (to me, a bacon and egg sandwich) think I'll pass on that, the picure looks like the sandwich is made from plasticine, about as appetising as eating a compact disc. McBacon Sandwich (bacon seems to be bacon when when it is served with egg in a McMuffin, it only seems to promoted to McBacon when the egg and McMuffin are absent). That'll do, can't go wrong with a Bacon sandwich. Staple food for generations. A girl of about 18yrs emerges from the kitchen area. She is blond, blue eyed with bad skin. She has lips that are creatively decorated in two different shades of purple lipstick, I find those lips to be very sensual but the only appetite I'm here to slake is hunger. She smiles. I place my order. This is where my confusion starts.
"four bacon sandwiches please"
"four McBacon Sandwiches" she repeats, adding that all important "Mc"
I start to hand my money over, but she interupts the process.
"Red or brown?"
"Red or brown sauce sir?"
"would you like a drink with that?"
Have I ordered a drink? I can't remember ordering a drink! "No, nothing to drink thanks"
"would you like the McBacon Sandwiches to be a part of a Big Breakfast meal sir?"
"Big Breakfast sir. It includes a hash brown, your sandwich of choice and pancakes in syrup.....oh and your beverage of choice"
One of us is getting confused here......and I'm not sure who.
"just four bacon sandwiches please. No drink. Just sarnies with brown sauce"
"to eat in or take out?"
"Erm, wrapped up. To take out"
Once again she repeats the order, the mantra of the cash till. I wonder if she thinks she is secretly being filmed by her boss. "four pound seventy five please"
Money changes hands.
"They'll be a few minutes"
I take a seat. If all that seems like the bog standard ordering system at McDonalds, let me explain why it confuses me. A normal ordering of breakfast at my local cafe goes more like this.
"morning Sam. A coupla bacon sarnies please hun"
"Hi Oz, how's you?"
"Knackered pet, it's too early to be up and about"
Sam'll laugh, even tho' she's prolly heard this line a dozen times from us hungry workers already. "sit down, I'll bring them over when they are ready"
"Ta sweetheart, stick them in a bag willya? I'm in a rush"
Money changes hands. I sit down.
And five mins later I'll be holding a bag, with two bacon sarnies in and a couple of satchets of both brown and red sauce......and a fancy lil' napkin as a bonus. It's that simple.
So I'm sitting in McDonalds. Flourescent lighting bleaches everything, the harshness is slightly mulled by pictures of gaping clowns, hamburgers with eyes and .....well, I dunno what the hell the purple thing with a face is supposed to be, it looks like a walking, talking kidney to me. I can't smoke in here. No body has left a newspaper behind and the table could only be more bare if someone stripped the veneer of it. Nothing to fiddle with here, eat up and get out seems to be the order of the day. I decide to spend the few minutes people watching. Not many of my fellow consumers in here today. A guy in a smart suit and slightly greying beard is eating something unidentifiable from a polystyrine carton. He looks more like he should be sitting in a warm kitchen at home, eating toast and marmalade while hiding behind his newspaper from his nagging wife. I wonder if he is a divorcee or a widower. He seems to be uninteresed in his breakfast. I adjust my seating position and can see that he is oggling the half naked girl on page three of his newspaper. I guess we all need our own little pick-me-up on a morning. Beside me a young woman and her kid (who looks about five years old) are giggling as quietly as they can about something....some private joke between mum and son. It's nice. I don't know what they are giggling at but it lightens my mood regardless. Then I see her. One of my old College Tutors, Carol. She looks older and more haggard than ever, all the time I knew her at a personal level at college she would chat and eventually get around to "how her bastard husband left her with a small child when he ran off with some slag" Full credit to the woman tho'...she worked hard and became a college lecturer......trouble was, for all her moaning about him, she was obviously still in love with the long lost husband. I don't wanna go talk to her.....it's too early in the morning to sit and listen to her moan. She glances in my direction and we make eye contact. Shit, no gettin' out of it now. Just at that second there is a tap on my shoulder. It's lucsious lips, thrusting a brown paper bag in my hands.
"Four McBacon Sandwiches to go"
I take the bag. Stand up. Give a wave to Carol who timidly waves back while holding a plastic bottle of "fresh" orange juice. I make vague hand gestures which I hope indicate that I'm in a hurry and have no time to chat. I'm out of there. The sandwiches were terrible.
Off to work. I have what could be called "A proper job" running a market stall business. But that leaves me with a lot of spare time so most days I'll take pretty much any work that is going, anything to fill the hours in. Today I'm helping a friend called Alan move house.
Lemme tell you a bit about Alan. Alan is commitng the slowest suicide ever known to mankind. I've known the guy since I was 12 yrs old, over 18 yrs. Alan is a lil' over ten years older than me. He's a good bloke, not the sharpest tool in the box but he used to be good for a laugh and the odd joke. I say used to be because a couple of strokes have left him paralised down the left side of his body and a lot of his brain seems to have gone as well. Ask Alan a question and you have time to go to another room, put the kettle on, sit down and light a cigarette before he can answer. Alan exists in a kinda sureal slow motion world. It was the booze that got him. Day after day, month after month of doing nothing but sitting at home drinking. Eventually the booze got more important than anything to him and he stopped making meals for himself. Didn't take long before the stroke hit him. They took him into hospital, dried him out and sent him home. He managed to stay sober for two weeks before he was back on the gogo juice. Just before xmas last year his liver started to rebel against all the poison and he was rushed into hospital. They phoned his mother asking her to come into hospital because they couldn't guess if he had three hours or three days to live. Amazingly, two months later he is still here. Good for him, he's a tough bugger.
To be honest I don't enjoy visiting him. He looks like an Auschwitz survivor and his liver is so distended that you think an alien is trying to burst through his stomach. I once jokingly said "Alan, if yer ever walked past a graveyard they'd drag yer in and bury ya" He laughed, his sense of humour is as rough and ready as mine. Then he looked at me and said "I wouldn't care if they did, I ain't afraid of dying mate" That threw me a bit. But in his situation mebbe death would be welcome. Hope I'm never in the position to ponder it. He's quit drinkin' now. But he's turned to chainsmoking these godawfull stinking strong cigarettes. like I said, slow suicide. I've seen it all before tho'...... lost two good friends to the demon drink last year.
Anyhow, I get there, make a cuppa for us both and an hour later I'm sat in his front room trying to untangle the mass of cables that connect his telly, video, stereo and wotnot to the power supply (how it never caught fire is anyones guess). Then his nurse arrives, Rachel. she is a beautifull young woman in her early twenties. A really sweet girl, the kinda person you can imagine living in a big house, with a hardworking husband and doting over 2.4 children. I've met her a few times in the past. She is a bit surprised that Alan is moving, he forgot to tell her about it. She makes Alan a bite to eat and volunteers to help moving stuff into my van. She tells me she can't lift anything heavy....fair enough, that's why I'm there.
Later that afternoon and I've got the van as loaded as it's gonna be today. Rachel has made us all a cuppa. The three of us sit down together. I'm sweating hard. I have a hereditary bone condition that means my joints don't work very well.......99% of the time it doesn't affect me but while I was loading the van my elbow joint became dislocated, I got it back in ok (had plenty practice) but it's stinging a bit.....hence the sweat. Rachel asks if I'm ok....I make an excuse that it's a bad hangover (a terrible lie, I quit drinking on boxing day last year......but I don't mention me bones to many people...it's not as if I've lost a leg or anything, no big deal). At this moment Alan decides to have a rare moment when his brain comes up to speed with the rest of the world and blurts out about me dodgy joints. Rachel is sympathetic, making the appropriate cooing and aw-ing noises as Alan describes me as if I'm gonna collapse on the spot, silly bastard. Then Alan demands that Rachel tell me what is wrong with her. This interests me, the girl looks as fit as an athlete. I sit and listen. This beautifull young woman, who should have a fantastic life in front of her, has a deformed heart. She has been through several operations, the last of wich she had a pacemaker fitted. I'm horrified. I ask her about a heart transplant. Seems it's not that simple with her, some kinda complications involved......can't tell you any more than that....she did explain but it's all greek to me. What I do know about heart surgery yer could write on the back of a stamp. She talks about it easily, in a relaxed way......to her credit. If someone told me that my heart could splutter and stop at any moment.....I'd spend the rest of my life shitting enough bricks to rebuild the pyramids.
So the three of us sit there sipping tea. My elbow is aching. Beautiful Rachel's heart is probly fluttering like a sparrow trapped in a teapot and Alan is drawing as hard as he can on one of his foul smokes.
I won't die from a dislocated elbow, Alan wants to die and is doing his best to make it happen and Rachel shouldn't die.....but looks like she is at the biggest risk.
One day I'll face my gods and the first thing I'm gonna do.......before I ask, how or why. Is spit straight in their eye.