Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Welcome to my world.

BEING a journalist isn't all champagne and parties, you know.

More often than not you're sat in a stinky car filing copy on a laptop with barely any battery left in the rainy car park of a service station in the arse end of nowhere, because it's the first place you could find with a phone signal.

You've more than likely got out of bed at the crack of sparrow's fart to drive there, only to be told something you don't want to hear but have to turn into a page lead anyway, and already been bollocked twice for not having got there sooner, filed your copy yet or ringing the newsdesk when The Editor was talking to them.

Tired, depressed, under-appreciated, you file your copy, sigh, and then wander into the service station for a pee and something warm. Not too expensive, mind, because the days of claiming subsistence expenses while on the road are long gone.

And there, in a cabinet under some hot lights, shines the golden crust of a pasty.

You could queue up for some anorexic fries and a flaccid burger at the fast food franchise, but the act of engaging your mouth with either would only depress you more. You could try one of the stale tuna sandwiches sweating in a plastic wrapper, but it won't bring you any joy.

You want the pasty. Beef steak, potato, swede and onion - no carrot, carrot is wrong - all wrapped in a handy and tasty pastry container. It is the foodstuff of the working class, the food which since medieval times has powered industry and provided the humble employee the same sustenance it gave to royalty. It is better than a bridie, less messy than an empanada, more solid than a roti.

It sits there, glowing before you. Your fingers fumble for your money but, as usual, you've not much in your pockets. There are some bits of fluff, a business card for someone you can't remember, a paperclip bent out of shape to try to fix your mobile phone, and precisely £2.50 in coins.

'Thank God,' you think. 'That's how much a pasty costs.'

You fish it out from under the lights with a pair of tongs - you feel quite grown-up for being allowed to use the tongs in a shop - slide it into a bag, and nestle the warm package in your hand as you approach the till.

And there your dreams are dashed, as a hatchet-faced service station operative informs you 'at's free quid.'

You stutter. There must be a mistake. Pasties are cheap, affordable foodstuffs for the working classes, you protest. 'Free quid,' she insists. 'Wen' up inna budget, innit.'

There is no ATM in this godforsaken spot. No money in your other pockets, at the bottom of your bag or on the floor of your car, even though you hunt under the drifts of newspapers and crap with which it is covered. Disconsolately you return the glorious meal-in-a-pastry-coat to its spot under the lights, where someone wealthier may see it, buy yourself a poxy tuna sandwich for £2.45 and trail sadly back to your car.

You look at the sandwich. It droops. You sigh.

And the world, already quite shitty in so many major and far more important ways, gets a little bit shittier, just for you.

Thanks, Gideon.

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