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I had a very unpleasant morning at work. One of the dinner-ladies had turned up in a distraught state, and we soon learned that her husband had run off with his social worker. The dinner-lady was sent home, and when the canteen had quietened down our supervisor went out and purchased a pink greetings card with the message “Our Sympathies at this Unhappy Time.” After we had all signed the card, a chef carrying a tray of eggs out of the kitchen accidentally dripped grease all over it. He protested that the card should not have been left on the food counter – the dinner-ladies contended that he had not been looking where he was going – and there followed an absolutely blazing row which lasted for over three quarters of an hour. I tried not to get involved.

After work, I drank away the afternoon with a South African agency worker in the Blind Poet. He taught me an amusing song:

The next day I met her, I met her in pink.

All in pink, all in pink, she made my finger stink.

Down in the valley where nobody goes.

I soon tired of the South African. He said that he was not a racist, but that the trouble with “the blecks” was that none of them were educated enough to run the country and that the whole show had gone to the dogs. He told me that he had lately fallen in love with a Russian girl – and that he had been unable to concentrate on his life since meeting her – but that whenever he rang her phone, she did not answer. He then admitted that he had been fruitlessly calling her every day for the last two months. I did not know why he was telling me this, or what I could say which would possibly help. I wanted to concoct some excuse which would allow me to leave, but I was too drained to think of anything. He was in the middle of describing his tortures when I stood up abruptly and marched out of the pub. I heard him shout something, but I did not look back. I circled the Meadows for a while. I wanted another drink but I did not know anybody who would have a drink with me. James texted me to say that the Italian café Sadivino had closed down.

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