No Homage to Catalonia Here

In May 1809 Laurent de Gouvion Saint-Cyr with 18,000 troops laid siege to Girona. After enduring disease, famine and privations, the city capitulated in December. Now L’Arcada is recreating for its customers that appalling experience.

As Saint-Cyr took aeons to establish his siege positions, so L’Arcada restaurant’s troops torment new arrivals by being busy elsewhere, though few tables are occupied. They remain empty as the reinforcement diners arrive, wait fruitlessly for orders, then retreat to elsewhere. We were weary but dogged. Our ordering was a staccato exchange of sullen canon. We explained ours would be a joint assault on the shared salad and pizza. Continue reading “No Homage to Catalonia Here”


Catcher in the Fly

Tried on trousers before I bought.
Sat down to test the give and drag,
stood straight to scan not long not short,
used a mirror to view bum sag.
Ran two fingers round the waist band,
pocket depth and place checked by hand.

Our first outing came with a blow,
the zip was short by a good inch.
I am not a big man, but even so,
worming out my cock made me flinch,
prising a walnut from its shell,
with my bladder threatening hell.

Next time I’m in a changing room,
to not constrain my urgent flume,
along with my observation
I will practise urination.

Trouser zips comparison.


Two new machines gave me delirium tremens.
I had to use the fallback – homo sapiens.

Burnham station has had a two-for-one offer –
two new ticket machines instead of the oldie.
The pristine pair had been commissioned just last week.
I am here to collect my Advance Booked tickets.

The right machine is already Out of Service.
The working one has promotions at eye-level
while the virtual keyboard to enter the code
is located at the height of an adult’s groin.

Keycaps are the size of a harvest mouse toenail.
So, to align my fingertip with the right key
I am required to hold a ski-squat posture,
balancing while keying the eight-character code.

Feedback comes as tiny letters, poorly rendered,
lost, like worm-casts in a field of white screen estate.
The old machine displayed at twice this one’s point size.
The new demands a lunge and squint to check input.

All is correct. But the machine rejects my code.
A flash four-line message, something about “not TOC”,
then a … tick-tock … lengthy display saying “Please wait”.
I and two others wait. I sigh. I try again.

Now with reading glasses ready, in the ski-squat,
extra scrutiny of the eight-character code.
Confirm. Get the same flash “… not TOC … Please wait” … tick-tock.
To the ticket office. The clerk, tap-tap. Job done.

The new machine is great for thigh ‘n’ eye workout
and for stretching patience. But not ticket print out.

Burnham rail station ticket machines

Don’t Defy the Don

Why was Don Carlos so grumpy with us?
We moved from his choice of ludicrous
to a bigger table far from the door,
where tapas plates wouldn’t fall to the floor.
A small surface means crocks are not stable.
He should put a cake-stand on each table.

The food was fine, well, three out of four.
The chickpea with spinach got my top score,
while the omelette with prawns and garlic greens
was cooked just right. So too the sardines.
But the roast veg had been stewed unto death,
smothered with passata as its last breath.

Why were you so grumpy with Don Carlos?
Because at the time to say adios
a more expensive wine was on our bill
and ten percent that would go in his till.
It wasn’t pleasant arguing our case
with the Don who conceded with bad grace.

Casa Don Carlos four tapas

(Casa Don Carlos, Brighton)


Double Dosa

I’m not going back to Indian Summer!
You thought it excellent, she said. So why?
Coz my expectations would be too high.

Was it sharing just one two-course set meal?
Not with papads and pickles canapés,
then dosa, thali, gratis soups and sorbets.

You’re making it sound more french than indian.
Concerning food quality, you are right.
Not the staff – they were helpful and polite.

I said going back would be a mistake.
You thought it just as good, she said. So why?
Coz my literary pen has run dry.

How can I write an incisive review
on friendly staff and a pukka menu?

(Indian Summer, Brighton)

In the Heel of Italy

It was the last Friday before Christmas
and the lengthy lunch break was near ended,
when two travellers sought shelter and food.
But the Apulia boss shook his head,
“There is no room. We have nowhere for two.”
They were standing by an empty table.
“This one,” they said. “A group of three might come.”
+++The two sat down. Served with friendly banter
+++they watched diners depart and none enter.

The warm efficiency of the servers
could not elevate the dishes and drink
to the expectations from the prices.
The eighteen pound house wine was diddly-squat.
The six tiny bread rings, came with the wine,
but with only one down the mains were served.
+++The pasta pile in mud was a dismay
+++while the vegan pizza was just okay.

A sure sign of greed in a management
is when Service Charge is stuck on the bill.
Twelve and a half percent in this instance.
The Catholic church demanded only ten
and was offering eternal salvation
(T&C apply). All very feudal.
+++So, it was coins to the serfs who’d been nice
+++though Apulia’s bland fare has a grand price.

(Apulia, Long Lane, London EC1A)

Apulia’s tagliatelle antara plus a bread ring

Sting in Barracuda’s Tail

Yes, we accept the Gourmet card,
said Barracuda with a smile.
We sat. Waited. Waited some while.

Whitebait, cod, skate, all were tasty.
Watched, not served, by Barracuda,
the lax, basking … et cetera.

No, we don’t take the Gourmet card,
said Barracuda through her teeth.
We remonstrated with the thief.

A quarter off only the food,
half what the discount should have been.
Yet full S/C to strip you clean.

(Barracuda restaurant, Brighton Marina)