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6:30pm on Tuesday, 15th April, 2008:

Special Order


I had lunch today in Vinny's in Colchester, a greasy spoon that's become far more conducive since the smoking ban. I go in there every once in a while because it's cheap and I like their grub. For some reason (and this has always been the case for as long as I've been eating there), it's one of those places that seems to attract more than its fair share of strange people.

No, I'm not admitting to being a strange person. Non-strange people do eat there too.

Anyway, while I was scoffing my scrambled egg on toast, a white-haired man who looked to be about 70 sat down at the table to my right. When the waitress arrived, he announced, "I'll have the vegetarian breakfast!".

OK, fair enough, it was 12:45 but Vinny's will cook anything on the menu if you ask.

That wasn't the end of his order, though. "Do you do vegetarian sausages?" Yes, they did. "I'll have some of those, too, please. Do you do vegetarian fried bread?" The waitress checked with a colleague, and yes, they did do vegetarian fried bread (whatever that might mean). "I'll have some of that please, and a vegetarian cranberry juice to drink".

I guess those non-vegetarian cranberry juices are the bane of his life.

"I'm a vegetarian!" he said to me, proudly.

I adopted the standard defence I use against people who talk at me in Vinny's: I looked at him as if he were mad. As it happened, I wasn't far wrong; he spent the next few minutes or so arguing with himself in a stream-of-consciousness flow which made such little sense I can only assume he delivered it on a "better out than in" basis.

He was still telling himself off when I finished up and left. Hopefully, when his vegetarian breakfast, sausages, fried bread and cranberry juice arrived, he was able to set aside his personal differences long enough that he could consume his order.

Ah, Vinny's. Every town should have one.

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Copyright © 2008 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).