• Vol. 08
  • Chapter 02
Image by

Chip Paper

“Yes love?”

Money in hand, football at feet, late summer afternoon air mixing with the cloying chip shop heat.

Joan has one arm over the counter and is looking over her shoulder at a small black and white TV up in the corner, barely visible in the glare.

“One scallop please,” I say, with an impetuous confidence born of familiarity.

“You an’ all?” asks Joan flatly, without looking.

“Yeah,” Lee chirps, “an’ can I ‘ave scraps?”

The fact that the purchase of one scallop – a battered slice of potato – scarcely warrants free batter shavings goes unaddressed. Joan draws back from the counter languidly and plucks scallops from a pile that have been sweating under the lamps behind the glass counter.

“10p please”. Clatter of till. Joan glances back at the TV as she hands me my scallop. I don’t know what she is watching – it's just boring talking.

As Joan scoops scraps onto Lee’s paper she sniggers coldly. “Silly buggers. Can’t hear the truth for the words. It’ll be chip paper tomorrow.”

Joan laughs her horse cackle. Lee reciprocates unconvincingly, bellowing an obviously sarcastic laugh as he gives Joan his 10p. We walk out sweating into the street, now laughing for real.