One year. 100 articles. So we're having a Reader's Party. Come along to Upsidecrown.
You can't put that into a soufflé
11 December 2000
Yellow. Smooth skinned and elongated. Tapered towards the ends.
The skin's very smooth, but not waxy. Almost like dolphin hide, but dolphins aren't yellow. Yet this is very yellow, very bright; not as shy as amber and definitely not as whorish as orange. Just - yellow. With slim black stripes riding up and down the sides. Going with the curve of the tapering; if I reach out I can run my finger up and down the stripe, from the stubby end, up and over the central pregnant bump and down towards the protruding stump at the end. But that hurts. Stretching my arm and my finger out hurts. So I can't do that and I can't trace the stripes.
How long have I been here?
I know that I've massaged those black-on-yellow streaks at least three times. The first time was to see whether I could and what it would feel like. The second, to touch that strange smoothness, which was colder than it should've been. Not that there should be any hot-blooded dolphin temperature to it, but that chilliness does seem unnatural somehow. And the when I stroked its yellow body for the third time, that was to test my pain threshold on the whole stretching business.
My arms hurt. My head hurts too though, somewhere just above the left eyebrow. Maybe I shouldn't be lying on it. Maybe I should turn over.
Ah. Ah ah. Better, I think. On my back now; I can't see the yellow thing, but all above and around me is shiny buff metal. And now my face isn't pressed against the floor, which is cold, which is why the yellow thing is cold. And yet. I'm not cold. The thrum in the skin above my eye and slicing down my shoulder hurts like arse and that's all, not even numbness (the cotton-wool gums after a dentist's anaesthetic). And still the fucking question unanswered: how long have I been lying here? It's still light, so nothing's ended, at least not without the electricity generators failing. Name, address, site that I lost my virginity at: check. Mother's maiden name, road that my primary school was on: check. So why am I prostrate under this aluminium sky and in a bastard amount of pain?
Fuck me. It's a banana.
Of course it's a bloody banana. What else was it ever going to be; "smooth skinned stripy dolphin" my arse. Which hasn't resolved the issue of why it's my sleeping buddy in this freezing tomb. Frenzied sexual congress with it whenever I was last conscious and unbruised? Wouldn't seem so - the fruit itself looks remarkably unharmed and clean, and my own sphincters don't feel sullied. Possibly a night out on the tiles - one man and his banana in the night-long search for women, wine and dancing. Except that I'm still on the tiles now, gazing at the metal above me. As is the banana. If it had eyes. Which it doesn't.
The first thing that I remember. Being two, in our back garden in Wolvercote, trying to eat the snails that were hiding under the pansies, and being forcibly stopped by Nan from doing so. An epicure, even then. And moving onto the last thing I remember. Shouting. And spinning, I think. And. And.
And. You can't put that into a soufflé; at least not with the skin still on
And. Oh fucking pudding hell. Because if that was the last thing that I said, then there shouldn't just be the one banana near my head, there should be substantially more than that. And if I turn my head to the right - ah - then yes. There's the rest of the damn bunch. Interesting that only the one came off after they ricocheted off my forehead. Fascinating, that. See, we drink a lot in the kitchens here - and I am in the kitchens, I've just realised, hence the giant bloody metal worksurface that I'm lying under - and no-one ever thinks anything of it. Try chopping several kilos of carrots for three hours without a little liquid help and see how fun it is. Or taking the abuse of Ross, head-chef boy when he's too near to the knives for comfort, and all you've got to defend your bony arse with is a bunch of coriander. Jamie bloody Oliver wouldn't last five minutes in here; Ross would have his pukka pubes marinating in some blueberry coulis before the boy could smirk.
Which brings me back to the dessert. Last night, unless I've been out cold for longer than I think. End of the night. Me and the boys had finished, were cleaning up and polishing off a catering-size bottle of pineapple liqueur. And Ross came back to our end of the kitchen, swearing, something about the last couple in the restaurant not having had pudding; "afters" as they'd called it. I seem to recall him being more upset that his usual red-faced tantrum-filled sweaty self about this terminology. Various threats being made about what he'd do to them "after", whilst grabbing the needed to prepare the soufflé that they'd asked for (which incidentally was going to take a good XXX to make anyway). The only fruit left in the kitchen was the bananas, and I'd nearly finished the bottle when Ross tried to fit the entire bunch into the blender, stalk and all. And that's when I said - shouted - what I did.
I remember now how the boys standing between me and him cleared so suddenly, cowardly little bastards; the slow motion roar as Ross pegged towards me, bananas held high like a fruitarian Olympic torch. The yellow flashes coming in and out. Being savagely beaten around the bonce with a bunch of bananas hurt more than I'd anticipated, and the last of the pineapple goo swilling through my bloodstream wasn't enough to block out the blows. Not sure what happened next, either I tripped or fell, and landed here. And Ross, with one final last-of-his-species roar, threw the bananas at my drooling visage. And I presume that that was what did for me.
Still, if the bananas are still here, he can't have cooked them up; I wonder what he did use? Best get up - oof - and back to work to find out.