The Blonde was in the bathroom doing something complicated with tongs, pins and the occasional screech, and I was surveying the kitchen with dismay. There were two crates of champagne stacked in front of the oven, there was a Christmas pudding sitting in a puddle of some liquid on the side-counter, and there was a rather brown looking banana in the fruit-bowl. The fridge fared little better: we had butter, mustard and some wilted spring onions, but otherwise even all the cheese was gone. I checked the lower cupboards in case there was any pasta left, but all I found were two tins of kidney beans in chili sauce and a duster that turned out to be a dead mouse on further inspection.
"Darling?" I called, trying not to sound phoney.
"Busy!" she yelled back, followed by a sharp "Ouch!" and a stream of cursing.
I checked the bread-bin again, just in case the bread had come back from holiday while I was hunting through the cupboards, but it was still empty.
"What do you want for breakfast?" I called.
"I'm not eating breakfast," she yelled back. "New Year's Resolution, remember? No food that doesn't taste good dunked in Champagne."
Ah, well that explained the crates of champagne and empty cupboards then.
"I'm going to get myself some breakfast then!" I called.
Something thunked twice and then shattered, and I fled the cursing before I could be accused of being responsible.
I very nearly got the car out and went to McDonald's, but as I was checking my pockets for my keys I remembered that one of my New Year's Resolutions was to walk more and to add more than just evening restaurants to my column. I left the keys where they were, walked the end of the street and caught a bus the seven stops to a café I passed a lot at lunchtime when it was always busy. Perhaps they'd serve breakfast.
"Did you read about us in the London Sandwich Review?" asked the waitress. Her teeth were crooked and yellow, as was her wig. She reminded me of Nora Batty, although she was clearly a few days younger, so much so that I had to fight the urge to look down and check her stockings.
"No," I said, peeling the menu from my fingers. It seemed fairly rudimentary: so long as I was happy with fried food, or possibly a boiled egg, I could get something to eat.
"Good," she said. "Horrible publication. Now love, what can I get you?"
"Darjeeling?" I said, wondering if this was optimistic.
There was a moment of silence while I readjusted my mental perspective, and then I tried again.
"Er, tea, please, white, no sugar, ducks." I said. She scribbled on her pad and smiled at me, making me feel slightly nauseous. "Eggs, bacon, mushrooms, beans, black pudding, fried slice, fried tomato and a waffle," please I said. More scribbling, and that expectant smile again. "That'll be all, thanks, ducks," I said.
"Not a problem, twattercock," she said pleasantly, disappearing back to the kitchen and making me wonder if I'd just been insulted. I decided that perhaps 'ducks' had been going a bit too far.
I'd barely started looking out of the window at the council's eternal roadworks before a chipped white mug filled with orange liquid thumped down on the table in front of me. I assumed it was my tea, though it was too hot to actually taste and blowing on it just seemed to create clouds of steam. I looked out of the window again, sure that there were fewer workmen there all of a sudden, and then the waitress reappeared.
"Sorry, loveyduck," she said. "I completely forgot to ask: how do you like your eggs?"
"What choices do I have?" I said, holding back a joke.
"Boiled, fried, poached, scrambled, Benedict, over-easy, on a raft and a Lavallette" she said. "Or a combination."
I shrank from the idea of boiling a fried egg, but was intrigued by the last option, which I thought had ceased to offered a hundred years ago and basically poaches the eggs in double cream and then serves up the lot. It's delicious.
"A Lavallette," I said.
"Lovely jubbley," she said, disappearing again and making me certain that she was taking the piss.
Five minutes later, and I had breakfast in front of me. The cream from the eggs Lavallette was invading the beans and submerging the tomato, though the fried mushrooms and black pudding had created a serviceable levee behind which the bacon was hiding. The fried slice was somewhere beneath the tomato, and the waffle was... well. It came on its own, on a side plate, and appeared to have been boiled. I eyed it suspiciously, not least because it appeared to be eyeing me back.
"I gave you a bit of sausage," said the waitress, from somewhere behind the counter. "I thought you'd probably just forgotten to ask for it."
Indeed, there it was, underneath the aggressive waffle.
"Thank-you," I said weakly, wondering how I was to review this.