Magazine article The Spectator

Real Life

Magazine article The Spectator

Real Life

Article excerpt

'I need to ask you something, ' said Steve the sandwich man, looking me up and down suggestively as he buttered my baguette.

I like Steve. I call at his sandwich hut just off the A3 almost every time I go to the stables to ride my horse. I always order a tuna mayonnaise baguette with salad no onions.

And he and I always have a little flirt with each other while he makes it. Steve has spiky peroxide blond hair, a ring through his nose, and lots of tattoos. But I'm getting to that stage in life when such things are no longer a bar to romantic progress. Age may very well be God's way of making you see beyond a fuzzy blue and green eagle on a hairy chest to the beautiful soul within, or whatever.

So as Steve buttered my baguette with a more than usual amount of enthusiasm while giving me rather intense looks, I thought:

'Hmm, I suppose it could work. Maybe a bit of rough is what I need. And, anyway, he's not actually that rough. He's made a success of his catering business so he might be quite a good prospect, compared with some of the losers I've been out with. I mean, look at the queue and it's only Tuesday. If everyone here spends five pounds . . . ' 'I want to make a mould of you, ' said Steve, setting the baguette down with unnecessary force on the counter.

This is the sort of thing that could only happen to me. 'Pardon me?' I said, feeling instantly desperate. Only I could end up being compromised over a tuna baguette by a tattooed roadside cafe owner who wants to put me in a plaster cast. In fact, I'm willing to bet that of all the thousands of women who have bought tuna baguettes from roadside cafes in Surrey over the years I am the only one who has been asked if I want a cast of my upper body with it.

'What? Eh?' I said, hoping the whole issue would just somehow go away, possibly by us all disappearing down a wormhole at the other end of which was a plane of existence where Steve had simply handed me a tuna baguette and said, 'That'll be ?.50, please.'

'It's nothing weird or anything like that, ' he said, looking like it was definitely something weird and exactly like that. 'I'm married, I've got a wife at home. Ask him.' He gestured to his business partner, who looked up from flipping burgers to give me a baleful stare. …

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