Yes, I miss catching up with a coffee and a friend; the background soundtrack consisting of the clatter of trays and the gaggles of girls giggling, playing grown ups, asking for a takeaway hot chocolate, just like we used to. And we still do. I miss trying to get away with my friends believing I listen to the same DJs they love as we finish our hair at ‘prinks’; wine glass in one hand, curling tong in the other. I miss catching the coach to London early doors on a Saturday, spending the day hopping from bar to bar and re-enacting what it’s like to be a student again with my uni pals; ordering shots at inappropriate times and being utterly unphased by sticky tables and dingy pub corners. If it has a 2-4-1 deal, we’ll give or take clean toilets and friendly staff.
But what I really miss – what I truly yearn for when the working day is done and the sky is committed to staying blue-black for a while – is a curry house.
Any curry house. One where you bring your own booze; one where they have Cobra on draught. I don’t mind if it’s a late night stop off after sharing a bottle of wine with a friend; I don’t mind if it’s a last-minute answer to my question, “What shall we have for dinner?” I don’t mind if it’s my favourite curry house, a curry house a drive away or even the one round the corner that I’ve only heard bad reviews of.
One and a half poppadoms each (extra mango chutney please), one pilau rice between two, one jalfrezi, one plate of Bombay potatoes and a keema naan.
I want to be the one to crack the poppadoms with my fist and I want my first segment to be piled with an assortment of the dips (no lime pickle, thank you); 1. minty yoghurt dip 2. mango chutney 3. a pile of onions. I want to feel that nervous apprehension as the main arrives, having just panic ordered another poppadom and realising this was a poppadom too far, when faced with my order.
I want to take a big breath, ask for another Cobra and drain the remains of my pint.
I want to clumsily serve my curry, tear off my portion of naan and resist the temptation to mop up the sauce before I’ve even shovelled a spoonful of curry into my mouth. I want to pick at the potatoes, remembering again that whilst they are delicious, it’s a dish too many (remind me of this next time). And then, after it all, I want to congratulate myself for my restraint in not yet finishing the naan. I want to finish the meal hastily, in fear I’ll realise I’m too full, before letting my naan soak up the dregs of my curry, polishing it all of with an uncomfortable glug of beer.
I want to pay the bill, eat a mint dark chocolate, shortly after claiming “I don’t think I’ll ever be hungry again”, and stumble home performing a
soliloquy that explores my every reason for believing Cobra is the best beer in the world.
And I want to do this all again a week later.
Bombay potatoes? Go on then.