‘Mate,’ Arg is saying. ‘Come on, mate. More chips than that.’ It is 1:45AM and James ‘Arg’ Argent is ordering chips. Well, more specifically, James ‘Arg’ Argent is ordering the Chicken Cottage, South Woodford Arg Special.
'So it's,' Arg is saying, 'so it's this, right: two Chicken FilAy!™ burgers, both with ¡Caramba!™ sauce, medium-spicy; two Chicken FilAy!™ burgers with ¡Caramba!™ sauce, spicy-hot; one Popped Chicken box 40-piece, but you get the cheese slices from the Dairy-Fried Burgerita and melt it over the top using the heat from the sausage broiler, plus one Amigo Bucket™ and a massive fuck-off Tango. Did you get that, mate?'
'Are you Arg from TOWIE?'
Arg sighs. Gets it all the time. Mums, mainly. Lots of nans. But gels, also, too. Signed a tit once. Wasn't a good tit — pretty awful tit, actually, flat and round and wide like a plate, pink and tender, the nipple having no discernible edges — but a tit nonetheless. ‘Arg,’ he wrote on it. ‘A-R-G.’ Sometimes he thinks of the things Mark Wright has been asked to sign. Sometimes he thinks of them and shudders to an orgasm, alone in his bathroom.
'Yes mate,' Arg says, resignedly. 'What do you want signing?'
'No it's just there's this laminated sign back here with your order on it.'
'The Arg Special?'
'The Arg Special, yeah!'
To civilians, The Arg Special costs £40.81, and takes two people to carry it to the car; but Arg has a House of Cards-style Frank and Freddy-type relationship with the Chicken Cottage, South Woodford, so he gets it for free. He does little things sometimes, for them, you know: signed photos for the kiddies, copies of his book behind the counter. In March 2013 he presented them with one of his famous bowties, encased in a glass box. They hadn't put it up yet. They will, though. Tony behind the counter keeps promising. They will. They will. Oh wicked his Arg Special is done.
Arg has a system: you take the chicken from one FilAy!™ burger and cram it into the other, to make a quadruple chicken stack, then a thin layer of chips, then a fucking load of mayo and a bun. To make space for the extra chicken he takes the lettuce out and throws it on the floor.
The order goes like this: eat the medium-spicy burgers first, then, using a fully unfolded wet wipe, mop your sweaty forehead; then you eat the spicy-hot burger, and wash it down with the Tango. The cheese melted onto the Popped Chicken helps cool him down afterwards, then he normally takes a shit and has the Amigo Bucket™ while he's walking home. Speaking of:
'Mate, can I do a shit please?'
As part of his Chicken Cottage privileges, he can send a text to Tony behind the counter at any time – day or night – and some sleepy-eyed kid will come and open up the shop and get the fryers going. They let him lock up, sometimes. They let him go out back and fry his own chicken. He slam-dunked a battered chicken burger into the oil once, giggling maniacally, and Tony had to be rushed to hospital as a result of the ensuing oil burns. 'Your arms look all albino now, Tony!' Arg likes to laugh. He does a thick-footed shuffling attempt at the Moonwalk at him, sometimes, mawkishly hooting throughout. 'You're like Michael Jackson, you!' Tony says his eyebrows will 'probably' grow back, one day.
'Only problem is,' the kid says, 'only problem is, we've got a Portaloo out back, as someone broke our toilet.'
'Who broke the toilet?'
'... nobody knows'
'How'd they break the toilet? How do you break a toilet?'
'It's got this big, unfeasible crack in the ceramic, and it's filled with what looks like four Jamaican Ginger cakes smushed together.'
'It wasn't me.'
'Makes this sort of doomed gurgling sound when you flush it.'
'Yeah, it wasn't me. Can I use the chemical one then, please?'
'Here's the key.'
Big one, this. Like a burrito, this, but sideways. He wishes he pocketed another wet wipe, for the forehead sweat. Big, this one. Might have to cab it home after this. Won't be walking. Big. Very, very big.
Phone rings. Lydia. Fuck. He puts on his sleepy voice. If she finds out he’s broke his diet again she’ll go fucking mental.
'Lydia? Is... is that you Lydia?'
'James, where are you?'
'In... bed. You woke me.'
'I'm stood here, outside your door – with your mother – and she says you're nowhere to be seen.'
'I'm... in a hotel. In... um. Plymouth. Did a PA tonight, didn't I?'
'I'm stood here, outside your door – with your mother and your agent – and he says you haven't had anything booked for a fortnight.'
'He says that demand for bowtie-wearing burbling gorilla men to sweatily murder a Sinatra classic that nobody wanted to hear anyway before throwing a few t-shirts into the crowd is running, eerily, low.'
'Neil said that?'
'And he says you can't get a PA gig in Marbella for love nor money after that spate of jacuzzi fingerings.'
'Lydia, I love you!'
'Then where ARE you, James?'
He sweated when he panicked. Out of his face and taint, mainly, but also his hands. His hands were clammy, his hands were wet. You saw it coming before he did. James ‘Arg’ Argent squeezed his phone in a panic and it shot, like a bullet from a gun, down and into the chemical toilet. Bollocks.
James ‘Arg’ Argent pumps desperately at the hand sanitiser and screams as loud as he can into the sink.
James ‘Arg’ Argent turns around to attempt to fish his phone out from a mess of turds and chemicals and, bumping his not inconsiderable arse on the side of the Portaloo, knocks the whole thing over, door side down, with Arg trapped inside. Fuck.
James ‘Arg’ Argent cries, purely and brilliantly, for ten straight seconds.
You are James ‘Arg’ Argent. To your [S]outh, both feet are stuck in a chemical toilet. To your [N]orth, there is a too-small-for-you-to-crawl-out-of-sunroof. To your [E]ast, a wash basin clogged with wet tissue. To your [W]est, a slick of cold blue chemicals are working their way up your trouser leg.
In your inventory, you have:
1 x bowtie
2 x packets of chips from a share-sized Amigo Bucket™
1 x copy of The Daily Star
1 x irreparably soiled mobile phone
1 x Chicken Cottage key, which you’ve just realised means that kid behind the counter has left to go do doughnuts in his Punto around a car park in Dagenham, and that you are locked in here alone
James ‘Arg’ Argent sobs so hard he vomits down his front.
James ‘Arg’ Argent consoles himself with a handful of chips.
James ‘Arg’ Argent fashions a sort of flag of surrender out of an unfurled bowtie and a couple of crumples lengths of Daily Star page which, with an amount of shuffling low throws and a couple of bouts of crying, he manages to lasso out through the sunroof of the Portaloo. ‘Help!’ James ‘Arg’ Argent says. ‘Mark? Lydia? That new one… Pascal? Anyone’ He wiggles the bow tie a little. Nothing.
Couple more handfuls of chips.
The fumes from the chemical potty have started to breakdown the burrito-sized deposit James ‘Arg’ Argent had put in there and the scent being created can only be described as ‘harrowingly savoury’. James ‘Arg’ Argent starts to choke. He needs to think. Rock? Rock. From side-to-side. He has the necessary ballast to flip this mother over. He just needs to rock. Rock. Rock. Rock. God these fumes are— god. Fuck. Left. Right. Fucki— god. It’s— god. It’s like eating a hundred long-boiled eggs. God. Right. God—
It’s Gemma. Gemma Collins. She is there, is all her resplendent glory, in a black one-piece bathing suit that is flattering in all the right places for the fuller-figured lady and is available exclusively from gemmacollinsofficial.com forward-slash store. Around her waist is a tasteful sarong. She seems to be eating a deep-fried chicken drumstick.
‘Yes Arg, it is me. Gemma Collins. Fuller-figured love goddess.’
‘What are you doing here?’
‘You’re the one with toilet chemicals seeping up your back, James Argent. I think I should be asking you.’
‘Are… you here… to save me?’
‘Well I’m hardly here to tell you about my new range of affordable party frocks, available exclusively from gemmacollinsofficial dot com forward-slash store, am I?’
‘Gemma, you need to get me out of here!’
‘I’m afraid I can’t do that, James.’
She slowly starts to unbuckle her tasteful sarong.
‘Because,’ she says, slowly, deliberately. ‘You ain’t never. Going to get. This candy.’ She disappears in a puff of smoke. James ‘Arg’ Argent awakes with a start. The fumes. The fumes. The fumes, the fumes, the fumes. Nothing is real, love is forever dead. He needs to get out of here.
James sees his reflexion in the buckled, plastic mirror mounted on the back of the Portaloo door. Exactly one side of his face is dyed a chemical blue. He is going to die in here. This Portaloo his coffin, these last remaining chips (four.) a poor toll for his crossing along the River Styx. He can see the headlines now. ‘Banter God Dies In Toilet Chaos. Nanny Pat, sobbing at his funeral. Bobby Norris threads his corpses eyebrows into a high arch for his final send off. No. Not like this. Not like this.
Arg eats all the leftover chips for energy then, with a furious roar, rocks from side to side. Left. Right. Left. Right. Left — he can feel it tipping! — right. Left. Right. A bit of light, through the door! Left. Right. Then he realises that actually, if he just stands up and pushes his back against the top of the Portaloo, he can prise the whole thing open around the door. Fucking hell, Argent.
Chemicals flood the floor of the storage cupboard. James ‘Arg’ Argent emerges, sputtering, wet and blue and reborn. And then an extremely piercing burglar alarm goes off.
‘So,’ the police are saying. ‘So what you’re saying is: you were stuck in a Portaloo for the past five hours?’
‘It tipped over.’
‘You’re aware that there are people combing the long grass of a nearby common looking for you, son?’
‘And you were just in here eating chicken and shitting?’
‘Mark Wright’s been on the news in tears. Says he was going to dedicate his Strictly Come Dancing win to you if you turned up dead.’
The policeman shines a torch in his face.
‘Are you on drugs, son?’
‘It’s the chemicals,’ Arg explains. ‘From the toilet.’
‘Do you need a lift home?’
‘Well you best get a fucking cab then, you’re not coming in a squad car like this.’
Neil is driving him home. ‘You’ve got a PA in Blackpool,’ he’s saying. ‘Don’t know what we’re going to do about the blue dye.’ James ‘Arg’ Argent looks out of the window of the car. A single tear dribbles down his face. ‘Neil,’ he says. ‘Neil, can you stop at the petrol station please? I’m hungry again.’