Thursday the café closed at one o’clock in the morning when the last of the Christmas party revellers finally packed up and staggered out into the street. For the final thirty minutes of opening time there was a group of about twenty-five customers, including Guido because I can distinctly remember hearing his voice wafting through the floorboards, give a rousing rendition of, I’ve Got A Lovely Bunch Of Coconuts. I’m guessing a lot of alcohol had been consumed.
Guido arrived upstairs in the loft about an hour later and fell into bed next to me with a half drunk bottle of Monopole Champagne and two lukewarm turkey legs. I wasn’t complaining.
The café always closes over Christmas and New Year because all of the commuters stay home and the locals are way too busy at this time of year having a nervous breakdown trying to figure out how to switch their own ovens on. I have to tell you it’s actually nice to, for at least just a couple of weeks, live the kind of life that I assume normal people do. I’m guessing that doesn’t involve the constant roar of an industrial sized cappuccino machine frothing hot milk all day long, and listening to Guido’s daily analysis of that particular day’s most bizarre sandwich filing request.
“I’m warning you, ” said Guido, “it looks like an atomic bomb has been detonated downstairs.”
“Oh we can clean up in the morning,” I said as I nibbled a leg and drank straight from the big bottle.
I didn’t care about the mess because this year our Christmas had just got even better.
My mother, Cruella, has hooked up with a rich young Sheik in a Belgravia hotel for the next five days and Guido’s parents, Rosa and Juan, despite being three suitcase busting limits over their baggage allowance, were last seen boarding an aircraft at London City airport bound for Andalucía. Frankly I’m surprised the plane managed lift off. So now it’s just the two of us left here alone in Bermondsey.
“Perhaps we could just stay in bed for the entire time like John Lennon and Yoko Ono did when they had their protest at the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam,” I said.
I silently imagined what Guido and I could get up to between the sheets to help promote world peace. I’m pleased to report that initial thoughts were extremely appealing and no it didn’t involve a salami sausage.
“Yeah, we could just lay here and contemplate our lives as we know them,” said Guido. He always strangely gets a bit like Albert Einstein when he’s drunk. “Or were you planning on suggesting something more energetic?”
I told him I was definitely open to all offers but I’d have to pace myself if it involved mince meat.
I chewed on the last of the turkey. We sipped the remainder of the Champagne between us and then Guido switched out the lamp. I could hear strange gurgling noises emanating from the darkness. I wasn’t sure if it was me or Guido or if our loft’s highly delicate but temperamental plumbing system was about to spring a leak as a surprise Christmas present.
Then I closed my eyes and crossed my fingers and I did what I always do. I hoped for the best.
Have a wonderful Christmas.