Soop

I must have been standing here for a good five minutes, staring across the road at it. The place looks ghastly. I’m not sure one could even call it a greasy spoon cafe. I think it would offend the grease. Nevertheless, I have been charged with reviewing this so-called restaurant and that is what I shall do. I give my monocle another quick polish on my monogrammed handkerchief and cross the road.
I manage to avoid touching the door handle by using my elbow pad to open the door; that’ll need a jolly good scrubbing tonight. I keep my eyes to the floor and scuttle across to a table. As I’m trying to locate a safe spot to put my hands on the plastic tablecloth, the waitress arrives.
“Whayerwan?”
Ah, yes, a South Londoner. I’ve read about them.
“Cuppor Tee, Luff. And…” I peer over my spectacles at the menu in its perspex holder. “Soop.”
“Twominnitsyeh?”
She skips off to kitchen. A shell suit, honestly? I don’t suppose they even have a company dress code.
Now she’s talking to the chef. Oh, goodness, he’s looking over at me! My hand shoots up to cover my face. A shadow falls over my table – he’s standing right next to me. Various sauce stains decorate his apron. I think I spot a piece of broccolli.
“Hi,” he says. I lower my hand slowly and look up at this giant looming over me. “How’ve you been, Dad?”

8 thoughts on “Soop”

  1. I really enjoyed the texture that you bring to this story. The descriptions of the restaurant and the interaction are great, and tell us as much about the narrator as they do about the place.

    I was unclear about whether the narrator was the son or the dad. The description makes the narrator seem older (elbow pads, monacle), but its not entirely clear.

    1. Thank you!
      It was, like my next one, a bit rushed because of schweet holiday action. I was happy with the idea, but didn’t have time to execute properly.

      The narrator is the supposed to be the dad. As you mention, I was hoping that the old fuddy duddy stylings would make the reviewer seem older and imply that the cook would be the son.
      Also, there’s a presentational problem: the last two lines are actually one – the width of the column makes the “How’ve” jump down a line. I think this would’ve made it clearer who was who.

  2. I liked how there’s a switch in tone from haughty superiority to being dwarfed at the end. Not sure about the writing in dialect – I can see how it seems it’s needed, but it’s one of those things that could go either way. But I think it worked this time.

    Kinda reminds me of how I feel whenever I visit my folks, actually.

    1. Ta!
      On reflection, and reading the comments below, I think that in a rewrite I would chop out the reviewer kicking the local lingo, but keep the waitress’s.

      Re folks: ha! :)

  3. Great idea, love you grasp of the characters. Love the way the place is described and how much sympathy the reader develops for the dandy critic without actually liking him (at all). ‘Safe spot on the plastic’ – great sentence.

    Love the phonetic London speech, to my Saffer ear it gives a really authentic ring. Wish that our critic didn’t ‘luff’ and ‘cuppor’ as it seems out of character with his image.

    I read the piece as critic is father but do see the unfortunate ambiguity here – Should be easy to fix.

    Generally loved the atmosphere and tone of this. It stands well as a straight piece of writing without too much cleverness – I like that.

    1. Thanks, man.

      I have very clear pictures in my head of what these guys look like, but trying to squueze some of that into the tight word limit is a challenge.

      Agree re the critic and his local speak-ee.

      Re critic father: see my reply to cbraz above – does that help?

  4. A restaurant Reviewer goes to a low-end Dive to review the place. The style of the Reviewer is posh and upper class, while the Dive is distinctly not. The Reviewer attempts to hide from the Chef, who spots him and walks over — we discover that the Chef is the Reviewer’s dad.

    I like the voices: “that’ll need a jolly good scrubbing tonight.” :)
    And “twominnitsyeh”. Definitely gives a feel for the people and place. I did wonder why our Reviewer was speaking the dialect as well, but it makes perfect sense after we find out that the Chef is his father.

    I also enjoy the dry humour: “Ah, yes, a South Londoner. I’ve read about them.” When we know who his father is, this says much more about the relationship as well.

    Of course, we only assume to know what the father’s like: he could be all be-monocled and elbow-padded himself.

    1. Thanks! :)
      I was quite happy with the voices, despite the rush job.

      I had in my head that the Reviewer is the father, the Chef the son.
      See above re lines, split: better?
      Mind you, I don’t think it matters particularly which is which.

      The family is posh, hence the be-monocled poppa, but the son has chosen a life of grime (ahem). I also had the back story that the two were somewhat estranged and the that the reviewer had chosen to go there and review it as a means of restarting their relationship. Not clear from the story, of course :).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *