View Full Version : Full English (Warning -- characters expressing racist opinions, and swearing.)

July 9th, 2014, 02:50 PM
Full English
Robbie and Rita Clarke sat at a table in their local Harvester. Sitting opposite were their oldest friends, Brian and Babs Coleman. Robbie and Brian had been best mates since their first day at, St Joseph’s grammar school nearly forty years ago. After leaving school they both went to work at the same auto-parts factory where they had spent their entire working lives. Each had been best man to each other’s wedding. Robbie and Rita were godparents to Brian and Babs’s only child: Tony. Babs and Brian were godparents to Robbie and Rita’s two kids: Sharon, and Michael.

While they chatted the waiter bought over their meals; pie and chips for Robbie, fish and chips for Rita, lasagne and chips for Brian, and cannelloni and chips for Babs.

‘Eee, this time last week Robbie, what were we doing eh love?’ said Rita. Her cracked, orange skin shimmered under the light of a nearby lamp.

Barry looked at his watch. ‘We were just sitting down for something to eat love.’ A grin spread across his face.

Rita put salt and vinegar on her chips, gazing into the memory of last week.

‘It sounds brilliant,’ said Babs. ‘Who’d have thought eh? A holiday at home?’

Rita wiped her mouth with her napkin. ‘I know,’ she said with wide eyes. ‘But it were best holiday we’ve been on ever, weren’t it love?’

Robbie had a mouthful of food so he put both his thumbs up. A tall effeminate waiter with a pony tail came over to ask how the meal was.

‘Spot on,’ said Brian, smiling at the waiter.

The waiter nodded, smiled and walked away with his hands joined behind his back.

‘Bloody poofter,’ said Brian, cutting into his lasagne.

Babs made a face, seemingly unimpressed with her husband’s remark.

Brian ignored his wife’s annoyance. ‘So how exactly does it work?’ he said. ‘Only me and Babs are thinking of doing it next year weren’t we love?’

Babs said nothing.

‘Eee you should go,’ said Rita. ‘Your Tony will love it, what with all them foreign waitresses they bring over.’ She winked at Brian.

Brian and Babs looked at each other, but neither said a word. Babs took hold of her husband’s hand and rubbed it. She looked at Rita. ‘Go on love,’ she said. ‘Tell us all about it.’

Rita sat up and put her cutlery down on the plate. ‘Well,’ she said. ‘They pick you up in t’ morning and take you out on a coach for about three hours —.’

‘— And when you get back t’ house its like you’ve landed in another country,’ Robbie interrupted.

Rita put her hand on Robbie’s arm. ‘Eee, what they did to the house as well. The dining room were marvellous weren’t it love with all them fancy tables and chairs. And they had tea and coffee, cakes and biscuits anytime of day you wanted, and the bedroom…Oh my God!’ Her eyes widened as she placed her hands over her heart. ‘They put up a four poster bed, covered the walls with rugs and paintings and every morning this little woman came around to clean…Eee it were wonderful what they’d done weren’t it love?’

‘Spot on love, spot on,’ said Robbie. He took a slice of bread and made a chip sandwich.

Rita continued. ‘Then outdoors they cover your garden with a massive piece of canvas so you’re completely closed in, and then they put out sun beds, an inflatable pool in t’centre of garden and all them palm trees as well, weren’t they brilliant love?’

‘Top banana love. Top banana.’

‘They had a little bar by the pool that you could get anything you wanted. That’s where Robbie spent most of his ‘oliday.’

‘Bloody right I did,’ said Robbie.

Rita reached across and rubbed Robbie’s stomach. ‘It shows love.’ She smiled and kissed his cheek. ‘It were just like abroad,’ Rita said, picking up her knife and fork again.

‘And what about entertainment?’ said Brian.

Robbie and Rita went to answer at the same time.

‘You tell em,’ he said.

‘No, you tell em,’ she said.

Robbie rubbed his wife’s arm. ‘You tell them dearest, I insist.’

Rita patted her husband’s cheek. ‘That’s a good boy,’ she said. She turned and faced Brian and Babs. ‘Entertainment were smashing,’ she said. ‘Karaoke, cabaret, dancing and all that stuff. But on t’third day I wanted to see something different so I told the rep to make the staff put on a show for us, you know a bit of dancing or owt like that.’

‘Sounds great,’ said Babs.

‘Eee it were weren’t it love?’ she rubbed Robbie’s arm. ‘They sent this little lad out. He must ‘ave only been five or six with frizzy black hair and big green eyes. He looked like something off telly didn’t he love?’

Robbie nodded and grinned. ‘Yeah…Planet of The Apes.’ With his right hand he tickled his right armpit while making monkey sounds.

Brian and Babs laughed. Rita slapped Barry gently on the arm while stifling her own laugh. ‘You’re bloody ‘orrible Barry,’ she said. ‘How could you say that? They’re really cute when they’re that age.’

Robbie took a sip of his beer.

‘Anyway,’ Rita continued. ‘I thought he were lovely. He put one of them Tommy Cooper hats on and started dancing. Eee, he were brilliant. When he finished he came up to us and put his hand out. Eee I could ‘ave cried so I gave him fifty pence. You should ‘ave seen his little face.’ Rita’s expression became serious. She pursed her lips and folded her arms across her body, looking at Robbie with contempt. ‘Of course, Ebenezer ‘ere didn’t give ‘im owt.’

‘I bloody did,’ he said. He took a sip of his beer, and wiped his mouth. ‘I threw a banana at the little fucker.’

Rita shook her head. Robbie made more monkey impressions.

Barry and Babs fell into hysterics and after a few moments of trying to be serious, Rita joined in. Her face creased up and the lines around her eyes almost disappeared. When they all stopped laughing they ate in silence for a moment or two. A young couple sat down at the next table. Across the bar, a man cheered as pound coins were spat out of the fruit machine.

After a few moments, the women began to natter about Rita’s new handbag. Barry leaned over the table and spoke to Brian. ‘If you do decide to do it you will ‘ave to keep an eye on the staff. I caught one of the little fuckers sleeping on the couch one night.’

Brian took a sip of beer. ‘Cheeky bastard,’ he said. ‘What did you do?’

Robbie sat straight and pushed his chest out. ‘I fucked him off back to the garden shed with the other fuckers and then the next day I called the rep and had him fucked off back to Timbuktu or wherever it were he’d swung across from.’

‘Good for you mate,’ said Brian.

‘Give them a fucking inch…’ Robbie said. He glanced across at Rita who was deep in conversation with Babs. ‘I didn’t tell Rita mind. Didn’t want to ruin her ‘oliday.’ He put his finger to his mouth.

Brian winked and nodded an affirmative and then wiped his mouth with a hanky and got up to go to the toilet. Robbie carried on eating while Rita and Babs chatted.

‘They do three packages,’ said Rita. ‘Gold, silver, and bronze.’

‘And you did the gold one?’ Babs said.

‘That’s right love…We were originally going to book t’ bronze package but one of the lads from t’club said he had done it and it were rubbish because the ‘oliday makers they provide you with at night times were all foreign, and not one of em wanted to play Bingo or do Karaoke or watch football or owt like that.’

Babs grimaced and shook her head.

‘And they only give you foreign food as well,’ said Rita.

‘Cheeky bastards,’ said Robbie who was scraping the last of his food from his plate. ‘It’s your bloody ‘ouse and your bloody ‘oliday and they try and feed you a load of crap.’

While the women chatted Robbie drank more of his beer. After a few minutes, Brian rejoined the table and finished the rest of his pint. He looked over to the waiter who was stood by the bar. ‘Same again,’ he said, circling his hand around the table.

The waiter nodded and went about pouring the drinks.

‘What did I miss?’ said Brian.

‘Rita’s explaining how t’oliday works,’ said Barry. He yawned mockingly.

Rita slapped her husband’s arm, and then a look of hope came across her face.

‘Eee, well don’t take my word for it. I think I’ve still got t’brochure in me ‘andbag.’ She reached down to the floor and lifted it with both hands onto the table.

‘Bloody hell Rita love,’ said Brian. ‘What else you got in there? Shergar or Lord Lucan?’

‘Very funny,’ she said as she took out the brochure and put it on the table. She licked her finger and thumbed through it until she found the page she was looking for. She picked it up and shuffled it like a newsreader, clearing her throat gently. ‘Ahem… Why go abroad when abroad can come to you?’ she said. ‘The Robert Crook holiday at home package is an all-inclusive holiday of a lifetime without actually leaving the comfort of your own home. We at Robert Crook will ensure that you and your family will have everything to keep you entertained and thrilled throughout our stay at your home. Our highly trained and respectful staff will transform your home and garden into a tropical paradise in less time than it takes to travel to the airport. Robert Crook understands that we are coming into your house so we are committed to providing the most respectful of staff who understand completely that this is your holiday, and above all, your home… She stopped when the waiter arrived with the drinks.

He placed each person’s drink in front of them and smiled, nodded and walked back to the bar. Brian shook his head as the waiter walked away.

They all took a sip of their drinks.

‘Carry on love,’ said Babs.

Rita picked up the brochure again and started reading. ‘Choose from one of our three packages and begin the journey towards one of the most memorable holidays you will ever have. She stopped reading and looked up. ‘I’ll just read what it says about t’gold package.’

‘We can’t wait,’ said Robbie.

‘Shut it.’ Rita slapped his arm. ‘To ensure that you have a truly memorable experience, our holiday at home gold package offers everything you will need such as: H.P. Sauce, Nescafe, Home Pride bread, full English with chips, English newspapers, and your choice from our ‘lovely couple,’ range of holiday makers such as, ‘Steve and Shirley,’ from Warrington, or ‘Jimmy and Julie from Bolton,’ who you will find to be perfect holiday partners as we will tailor them to be exactly the same as you with all the same values, opinions, and tastes in television, music, and food. We also provide the best in first class cabaret with acts such as Bernard Brown; one of the north of England’s leading club comics. Joining Bernard will be *uck’s Bizz; a four-piece drag act from Preston who are guaranteed to leave you absolutely blown away!…’

Rita stopped reading and put the brochure back down on the table. Her eyes filled up with tears. Robbie put his arm around his wife. ‘Eh silly!’ he said. ‘There’s always next year love.’

Rita blew her nose into her hanky. ’I’m a bloody idiot,’ she said. ‘Look at me…bloody crying.’ She wiped the corner of her eye with her finger and started to laugh. ‘I’m a Bloody plonker I am.’

Babs reached across the table and held her friend’s hand.

‘I’m alright,’ said Rita. ‘It were just such a good ‘oliday that’s all.’

The waiter came and cleared the table. The friends ate dessert and drank coffee and Robbie insisted that he pay the bill. When the meal was finished they went outside and smoked while they waited for a taxi. When the taxi dropped them off, the couples went their separate ways. Brian and Babs to number eleven, and Rita and Robbie to number twelve. Brian and Babs went inside, but Robbie and Rita stood outside, staring at their house, both wearing broad smiles under the glow of a full moon.

‘Eee, this time last week love,’ said Rita.

Robbie put his arm around his wife. ’I know love. I know…’

The End

July 10th, 2014, 03:56 PM
I read this yesterday and decided to leave it alone in favor of others who might offer a stronger critical assessment. I'm disappointed to see no one has come and applauded you yet on the great writing. You deserve it.

Whatever grammatical faults I might have spotted I missed for being caught up in the dialogue. That's a compliment. The moment you numb the editor you've won the reader. I was very impressed by the inflections you offered to the characters, and the channels you journeyed while writing them. The opening was perfunctory and dull, but necessary to establishing the scene. You quickly set off in all the right directions the moment the characters opened their mouths. That takes talent, an immensity of it, and I just wanted to let you know that.

My only suggestion would be to snip the portion where you tick off each character's meal; they are never referenced again save for the salt and vinegar being dolloped on the chips, and add an unnecessary length to the sentence that, if snipped, would add to the strong pacing of the piece.

Aside from that, no complaints. You're a great writer. I went and read many of your older pieces and have enjoyed most of them immensely.

July 10th, 2014, 04:36 PM
Hey Ibb, Thanks very much for the feedback. The story was inspired from a recent holiday to a Thomas Cook resort in Tunisia....
Many thanks.

The Bruce
July 15th, 2014, 04:17 AM
Jesus, when is this supposed to be set? References to Bernard Manning, Lord Lucan, Shergar, Planet of the Apes and working in an auto-parts factory?

I laughed right at the start because the warning about racist opinions was followed immediately by setting the scene in a Harvester - brilliant - and at the Gold package allowing you not to eat foreign food, but by the end it could have been cut from Pete and Dud or something (not in a good way). Yorkshire's never going to be accused of being cutting edge, but it's a while since I've heard anyone other than Compo begin a sentence with "Eee". In general I felt that your obvious disgust with the characters coupled with the over-the-top Yorkshire accents began to feel slightly hypocritical.

Also, the waiter in the Harvester felt out of place.

October 12th, 2014, 01:23 PM
I Love this piece, its funny, very clever and witty with a great British feel. I agree with The Bruce about a waiter at a Harvester, isnt it a buffet style restaurant?

October 12th, 2014, 10:01 PM
Hey there...yes, I think thats right about the Harvester! I am in the process of re-writing this so may post the new version when done..thanks for reply!