After ‘The only son at the fish ‘n’ chip shop’ by Geoff Hattersley
Before I break the news to mother
I down a couple of pints.
“Well, Gerald,” she says,
“It’s about bloody time.”
Maureen knows how to talk to the customers.
She wears high heels and red nails.
She cuts the size labels
from her regulation tabards.
Maureen’s been to Spain and Old Trafford.
While I’m carving the kebab meat,
she talks about her holiday in Turkey.
I say I don’t think I should like the heat.
Maureen scribbles poems on chip paper;
they’re not very good – they don’t even rhyme.
I tell her about my novel and she asks to read it.
I say I’ll show her when it’s finished.
She asks me to marry her
one Saturday after closing time.
We’re alone in the back room,
counting the takings.
The strip light flickers.
The fly killer buzzes
I say yes.
I’m sick of the smell of chip fat
under my shirt collar,
and the oil-slick air
above the fryers.
Maureen says chip fat’s liquid gold.
“There are going to be
some changes around here
when I’m in charge,” she says.
(C) Helen Lewis 2006