‘An Incident Involving Scampi’.

Part I.

“Ah mate. I had fish and chips from a chip shop for the first time ever the other day”, Josh reclined with a smirk on his face.

“Oh my god, it was so fucking rough hahaha”.

Sitting nearby was Howard, whose ears perked up as he registered the slightly ridiculing tone. In his intoxicated state, he was bemused by what he said for at least a couple of reasons. Wasn’t it just accepted in Britain that the ‘chippy’ was a staple part of the English diet, and deservedly so? Having recently transferred to the private sphere of higher education, Howard had expected to encounter the clichés of middle-class snobbery. He was instead mildly taken back by what seemed more of a proclamation of ignorance, rather than taste. Going to the chip shop had simply not occurred to sixteen year old Josh, whose exact family heritage had briefly slipped Howard’s mind (although he was sure it was some obscure Asian dynasty), and he etched the feeling in his mind: this is where the division lies. Josh’s world was one of book festivals and pseudo-hippy drapery in their three floored terrace, of day trips to London in the car, the parents uncomfortable glance at the same-sex couple and the university visits that frequented his early memories of childhood. He was going on holiday to America in three weeks. The scampi that Harold had taken to eating for lunch fluctuated in his stomach, a symbolic turning as he got up to ‘grab’ a lighter from the table.

“Ah, damn…sorry man!” He had knocked over a beer that was resting on the side. It didn’t seem to fit well with the ambience of the room. He was rather high, having smoked four or five joints over the last few hours and he couldn’t be fussed with the offending liquid. He retreated to the slouching position he had only realised was so comfortable once he left it, and watched as Joshy flicked through the channels on a type of television he could never imagine having in his own residence. His mind meandered once more until he was walking on the street, going home. Observing a man who must have been aged around fifty-five, but with a younger face and hair,  he mused on how old he would have been whilst he was crawling in the oblivion of infancy. Mid Thirties? How old that man must feel; all those days Harold had spent walking the backstreets home from Primary School, while this guy was piling on the age. The air was so quiet. He began musing on the generation the man belonged to, how they, the post-war baby-boomers were the ones who created this ‘lazy’, ineffectual generation. After all, it was them who had invented microwave pizzas and turkey-twizzler school dinners, mobile phones and big screen T.V’s, used big cars and created a globalized flurry of Disneyland Joy after the boredom of the Seventies. Anodyne seemed the right word for it, which was just what this Town had become. And it had happened to Josh.

Out of this world Harold soon burst (he never loved that name) until he was back in the room, faint daylight reaching through the cracks by the curtains. He saw the beer stain on the floor which neither had apparently bothered to clear up, and pulled a multi-coloured blanket over his toes…the room was getting cooler, and he was lying there thinking. Thinking about the salsa lessons his parents had started attending, and the chip shop incident the night before, his scampi turning once again, and a strange unnerving feeling of disconcertion that the absence of tragedy which perturbed Josh’s world, was suffocating them both.

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