Friday, 29 October 2010

Snacks, not small talk

If you know anything about me – and I have no idea if you do – you know I love a snack. I love talking about a snack. I love eating a snack. What, where, when, how often, home-made, shop-bought… all snack facts are good snack facts, Jones-wise.

That's why I loved this man, enjoying a train snack on the 5.58pm last week, specifically some nuts (I'd say honey roasted, if you pushed me) in a plastic cup.

But where do you get an open cup of nuts? When you're shopping to satisfy your nut needs, no one asks you if you'd like them open or wrapped. There are plastic bags for this kind of thing anyway. Tubs with lids. Not cups from a water cooler, which this clearly was. We were pulling out of London Bridge station, where he could have pick-and-mixed those nuts from The Vaults, the sort-of-food-market they have there (if, under the canopy of food, you include flowers, greetings cards and Thomas Pink shirts). But I know he didn't.

I felt sure this was a case of buffet cut-and-run.

I know the signs because I am a buffet poacher myself. I don't believe a hotel continental breakfast is all it claims to be unless you can squirrel away enough items in your pocket to constitute a hearty lunch later in the day. It's not just buffets, though. I'm an any-time opportunist. I say this as someone who sat down to watch the Old Vic pantomime a couple of years ago with the bulkier elements of a Pizza Express Nostrana salad wrapped in a napkin on my lap, having run out of time to eat it in the restaurant beforehand.

I imagined The Nut Guy standing around in his office half an hour earlier, smiling wearily through one of those promotion/birthday/big-result-for-the-firm celebrations, all salty snacks and sparkling wine, where colleagues
pride themselves on steering the conversation away from shop talk, when it would be so much more comfortable for everyone if they left it there. The saga of the sales manager's loft conversion was not the engaging narrative he imagined.

At precisely the moment when the second hand nudged 5.30 (he'd been watching the clocks carefully – it was also 12.30 in New York and 08.30 in Tokyo), Nut Guy switched off his small-talk smile, gave out a one-word goodbye and made a break for the lifts. Then he paused, turned on his heel, walked back towards the party, wrenched a fresh plastic cup free of its family and filled it to the brim with snacks, before leaving for good. Maybe he stuffed a sausage roll into one blazer pocket, a miniature scotch egg in the other.

At 5.30, he became the rightful owner of a whole weekend's leisure time and a seat on the 5.58 train. But he was also entitled to his share of that buffet. And who says you can't have it all? Not Nut Guy.

He got off the train before me. Here are his leftovers...

I can't say I wasn't tempted.


Big Brother said...

As it happens... our mother left the Pretty Corner Tea Rooms near Sheringham on Friday with the fairly bulky uneaten half of an egg sandwich (her own I hasten to add, not one lifted from a recently vacated table) wrapped in a napkin. I'm hoping it's not still in her coat pocket.

Alison Cross said...

Admit it - you ATE those leftover nuts! Again, you had me chortling - I share your sentiments about the continental breakfast in hotels lol!

Ali x

Anonymous said...

The curious thing was that when I brought it out later I didn't fancy the rest of the egg sandwich, and it ended up either in the dog's stomach or the bin - can't remember which. This, however, did not stop Mrs Jones the Younger and me sneaking back to the Pretty Corner later in the afternoon for a cream tea, whilst the Young Miss Joneses were rock climbing and abseiling. Knowing your interest in these matters Miss Jones, I have to report that the scones were some of the best I have ever tasted, and, as you are aware, I know my scones.

mrs jones