She doesn’t want to be here.
The place is over-lit and full of noisy people.
Clare glances at her companion. Her date had chosen this place as it’s apparently the new place to be. The menu is predictable in its attempt to be cutting-edge.
The young waiter brings their starters precariously heaped on flat pieces of wood. The sauce dribbles onto the table. Isn’t this nonsense of putting food on bits of wood, pieces of slate, and in jam jars old hat now? They might just as well heap it all on the table, thinks Clare, and save themselves some washing up. She tackles her food with care to avoid more mess.
‘This is fun, isn’t it?’ says Ian.
‘At my stage of life, I’m not sure I need fun,’ retorts Clare.
‘Have to keep ourselves young. We’re not dead yet.’
Clare wishes Ian was dead. Still, she needn’t have another date with him.
The only other couple old enough to remember the Beatles is looking every bit as dismayed as their ‘polenta baked vegetable spears’ parked in a wire basket arrives alongside a tower of something with cocktail sticks poked into it like a game of Kerplunk.
‘Waiter!’ roars the man. ‘Here!’ He clicks his fingers and berates the waiter who is now serving another table. He demands a proper plate.
Much as Clare agrees with his choice of crockery, his manner is inexcusable. It’s hardly the young waiter’s fault. The man is still ranting and the waiter, who is all of sixteen, looks on the verge of tears. The other diners seem unaware and continue to shout over one another.
Clare walks over to the counter where carafes of water and glasses stand; at least these are normal. She’d been half afraid they’d have to suck their water from the fish tank through a piece of hosepipe. She walks back past the outraged man and, whoops, staggers a little and succeeds in pouring the entire contents of a carafe over him, ice-cubes and all. His shriek silences the place.
‘Oops, I’m so sorry,’ says Clare. She grabs her coat and bag from her chair. ‘I’m off.’ She heads for the door and escapes. A few metres down the road she hears a shout.
‘Wait!’ A woman’s voice. She turns and sees the irate man’s companion.
‘Wait for me! Shall we find somewhere nice for coffee and dessert?’