In the Night Kitchen

I’ve been teaching on the Creative Writing MA at Liverpool John Moores University for three weeks now, and I emerge from the workshop at 9pm starving hungry; and have been looking for somewhere good to eat. The first week, I went to an Indian place; the curry was a bit fussed about, but it was OK. I had popadoms as well as a main dish, and a Cobra; total cost sixteen nicker. By the time I’ve driven from Presteigne up to Liverpool, and then down to Birmingham to grab a few hours kip before performing my role as RLF Fellow at Birmingham City University on Thursdays, I’d pretty much have blown the fee I got for going up to Liverpool if I kept eating there every week.

So in week two I found a posh-ish burger place, which was also OK; but by the time I’d had a coffee, it still came to eight quid. But last night my prayers were answered; I found an all-night cafe in Bolton Street, right next to Lime Street Station; two sausgaes, egg, bacon, black pudding, two rounds of toast, mug of tea, free pahnd firty. Proper! And, what’s more, I could have had beans or tomatoes; but, although I am very fond of both, I can’t be doing with beany juice or tinned tomatoes mixed with egg yolk, so I go without.

I will admit that it’s a bit dingy. It seems to be largely inhabited by taxi drivers; which is not to say that taxi drivers are dingy. One wall is devoted to Everton memorabilia; the other to Liverpool, which I guess solves arguments. The Everton/Liverpool FA Cup replay was playing on the radio, but no one seemed to be listening. There was a bag lady, with all her belongings tied to one of those zimmer frames with wheels, playing the quiz machine. I always feel utterly at home in dingy all night cafes. Monique used to say that if I was dropped on a desert island, I’d find a greasy spoon and someone to be naughty with, and maybe she had a point. But I’m a reader; it felt odd to sit there, reading ‘Q’ by Luther Blisset, though no one came up and did that Bill Hicks ‘Why are you reading?’ thing, so it was cool. I’m now a regular.

The Market Diner in Circus Place, by the old Fruit and Veg market in Brighton was always a favourite after gigs back in the day. You could turn up after a show and order a walloping breakfast at 4 in the morning, and all was well with the world. Sadly, the all night breakfasts in those days replaced the calories I’d burned off during the gig; now, of course, they are ruinous for the figure. But who can argue with free pahnd firty?

9 Responses

  1. Cara Reay says:

    I will have a think about where you can get a bargain meal in Liverpool. I lived there for 8 years having moved back to Presteigne last year for some sanity. I have eaten in loads of places there but I know that it can sometimes be tricky to find a cheap bit at that time of night! My partner has taken up writing but only in the piece and quiet of Radnorshire. It was far to hectic and mad for us in the pool.

  2. Graham says:

    No no no. It has to be bubble. And sorry for confusing firty with fifty, Ian. That’s what a diet of Ribena and fried corpuscles, combined with a lifestyle heavily dependant on excessive and quite unnecessary masturbation does to a man. Firty. Firty. Got it.
    Personally, I just keep the foreign coins that i regularly find in the till to put into the children’s money boxes. The little rascals!

  3. Lonesomedepot says:

    I can’t help thinking that hash browns are callow young pretenders to the British breakfast plate. At least the chip has history on its side, although I agree – even as a Londoner I do feel a vague sense of wrongness even as I order them. Personally I’d like to see the revival of the now seldom witnessed fried potato.

  4. Pete says:

    The most upsetting thing about living in London (versus some very stiff competition) is that they seem to think chips have a role to play in a big fry-up. Coming form Yorkshire, chips are as vital to me as oxygen, but there’s something dirty about putting them on a fry-up plate. It’s like putting chocolate sushi on the same plate – fine in their own right, together just wrong. Has browns, yes. Bubble and squeak, no problem. But not chips.

  5. Ian Marchant says:

    Thanks for your support. Anyway, it wasn’t free pahnd fifty. It was free pahnd firty. I’m putting that four shillings a week away for your future, you ungrateful wretch.

  6. Charley says:

    Please don’t encourage my already overweight father to have any more fried food than is absolutly necessary.
    And no, £3.50 does not count as a valid reason.

  7. Graham says:

    Mushrooms are a must. As are tomatoes, and if they don’t do grilled or griddled fresh ones, place your fried egg(s) on the toast to keep it out of the tinned tomatoes’ body fluids for just long enough to eat them uncontaminated. If that’s not possible, too difficult or breaks the etiquette of the establishment, ask for a slice or two of white break and attack the tomato juices in a mopping up action and give yourself a relatively dry plate with unspoiled eggyolks. Simple. Come on man, it shouldn’t be allowed to spoil your meal, it’s only tomato juice. And free pahnd fifty is a steal.

  8. Richard says:

    The beans and egg; tomato juice and egg – no no no. There should be a law. It’s beans OR egg OR tomatoes, and for true militants: OR mushrooms. This is because you only need one item to soften the toast (if you’re eating the (F)EB as a habit you’ll have bad teeth, n’est-ce pas?), and the liquid of beans and tomatoes will (over-enthusiastically, in my opinion) do what a liquid is supposed to do – fill the available space. Start a campaign. It’s not tight-fisted to go without. It’s just right.

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