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I went to work at the Pollock Halls restaurant this morning and ended up manning a coffee bar. After a couple of hours, the restaurant got very busy and I was accorded an assistant: a pretty Polish agency girl. The work was too much for her, and so she sat on the end of the coffee bar, swinging her legs and smiling at the students. I warned her that if one of the managers marched past, then she would have to jump off the coffee bar and pretend to work. We chatted whilst I prepared the coffee and put out jugs of milk. She told me that next weekend she and her boyfriend were going to hire a car and drive up to the Isle of Skye.

“You have a boyfriend?” I despaired. “And does he have any sort of cancer?”

She smiled sadly at me and shook her head. “I afraid not.”

“What about leukaemia? Does he have that?”

She shook her head again.

“And is he in good health? I mean, generally…”

She giggled. “I’m sorry Zbigniew,” she commiserated.

*

I spent the afternoon working in the canteen at Standard Life. I was put in the kitchens with an agency worker called Noah. The name amused me.

“What is the abbreviated form of Noah? Is it “No” or “Ah!”?

I could not work out whether he was Jewish. The name Noah seemed vaguely Jewish, and he had olive skin and jet black hair. It is rather impolite to ask a stranger whether they are Jewish, but I hit upon a more subtle way of finding this out.

I walked up to Noah, who was washing vegetables, and asked him, “Are you circumcised?”

“What the fuck?”

“It’s a simple question. Are you circumcised?”

He looked vaguely about, as if for some sort of weapon. I did not want any messing about, so I grabbed him by the neck and plunged his head into the sink. I ducked his head down several times, before bringing him up for air.

“I‘ll ask you again. Are you circumcised?”

“No!” he gasped.

No, I don’t think he was Jewish.

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