03 Sep Too Many Cooks – Part 1
It was early when I got the call. Way too early. Half asleep I slapped the trilling menace from its cradle and it landed with a crack on the maple of my bedroom floor. I picked it up.
“Moocjheenie”, I croaked.
“It’s happened again”, an electronic voice, altered, robot-like, “you know the drill”, then a click to dial tone.
I blinked the crust from my eyes and focussed on my watch; 3.16 a.m. and 23 seconds. A force of habit. In my line of work the difference between success and failure is so often in the minutiae.
It was the third call I’d received this week. All at the same unearthly hour. The fifth since the start of the month. The world’s celebrity chefs were disappearing, one by one. Kidnapped without ransom. I’d have an email waiting for me in my in-box, of that I was sure. Another stanza in a sick sonnet from one twisted puppy.
But all that could wait. The world could wait until after coffee. My head ached, my throat was dry, there was a strange rash at the top of my inner thigh.
I wrestled the group handle into the bay of my espresso machine. A half-empty bottle of Finnlandia sat mocking me on the kitchen bench. These days something strong and Scandinavian was my constant after-hours companion. And when Helga — a Norwegian modern pentathlete I’d met at Wet ’n’ Wild in Walthamstowe— wasn’t available, I chose vodka. Finnish vodka.
Below my window at 3.27am a black cab disgorged a well-oiled suit and a woman half his age. He with tie askew, her struggling — baby giraffe style — on heels that seemed such a good idea at the time. They’d just spent the day at a real estate convention at the Barbican. That followed by dinner and drinks at Emperor Selassie — an Ethiopian-sushi fusion affair on the Bank side of Cannon Street.
How’d I know all this? There’s a lot you can tell through observation and simple deduction. They staggered off toward an adjacent block of flats for a nightcap, a little drunken debauchery and a selection of early morning regrets.
I took another sip of coffee and stared into the London night sky. A light rain was adding to the inky black of the Thames. But wait a minute….what in the name of Jehoshaphat was that thumpin’ big thing spanning its width? Ah….that’s right, Tower Bridge.