A New Englishman in New York Part 12: The Shipment And The Scotch Egg

A rap on the door by a vaguely famous TV star sends my girlfriend into overdrive, while a taste of home sends me walking home with a spring in my step...
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A rap on the door by a vaguely famous TV star sends my girlfriend into overdrive, while a taste of home sends me walking home with a spring in my step...

Buzzer

It’s half eleven at night. I’m in the bedroom doing university work while the girlfriend is in the living room watching Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. It’s her favourite Law and Order. As she puts it, she likes the “one with the rapes”.

I’m staring at an excel spreadsheet, internally weeping, when she runs in looking scared.

“Tom, someone just buzzed.”

Oh god. It’s late. Someone is buzzing the flat to be let in downstairs. I don’t like this. We aren’t expecting anyone. It can only be something bad.

It buzzes again. It’s loud.

The girlfriend looks at me. Panicked. Bloody hell, I’m going to have to be a man here.

I walk over to the intercom.

He is stood next to a massive, angry looking guy in a long coat. It doesn’t look good. I’m definitely dead.

“Hello.” I say.

“Hey, I’ve got your shipment.” Shouts a deep American drawl.

“You’ve got the wrong apartment.” I Say

“What?” He barks.

“You’ve got the wrong apartment.” I repeat.

“Oh I am very sorry.” He says.

That’s it. Done. Go back to the bedroom.

5 minutes later. The girlfriend runs in again.

“Tom, there is someone banging on the door.”

I hear it. He is really thumping the door.  Look at the girlfriend. I’m considering how useful she would be as a human shield. Bin Laden style.

I walk to the door. Peep through the peephole and I’m eye to eye with this man. Eyeball to eyeball. He stands back from the door. Glasses. Grey hair. Middle aged. But he is stood next to a massive, angry looking guy in a long coat. It doesn’t look good. I’m definitely dead.

He bangs the door again. Really hammers it.

“Open up. I’ve got your shipment.” He shouts

“You’ve got the wrong apartment.” I say.

“Oh I am very sorry.” He says.

I go back to the peephole. His massive mate turns to him and says:

I go after her to stop her running out in her night robe. She is unlocking the door. I pull her back. Making her stop.

“It must be downstairs, Derek.”

They turn and walk downstairs. I keep peering through the peephole.

He bangs the door below. A man, braver than I, opens the door.

“Hey, who you looking for?”

“The British guy.” Says Derek.

Shit.

“You mean Nathan or the guy upstairs?”

“Nathan.” Says Derek.

“Oh, he’s next door…wait…is it you? Man, I love your TV show.” Says my downstairs neighbor.

TV Show? He’s a TV star?

The guy who lives downstairs calls his girlfriend out to the door.

She yelps in excitement and tells the guy she “loves the show” and “We’ve been watching for years.”

Derek, TV star, thanks them and bangs on the right door. It opens, a strong gust of weed fills the corridor and they walk in. Shipment delivered.

Resolved. I go back to my girlfriend who is hiding in the bath.

“That was weird. The guy’s some famous TV star.” I say.

Her eyes widen. “Famous?”

She jumps out of the bath. Rushes past me.

“Where are you going?”

“Tom, if he’s famous, I’ve got to say hello.”

Due to my fondness for a particular American girl and Buffalo chicken wings I may never end up living in England again.

I go after her to stop her running out in her night robe. She is unlocking the door. I pull her back. Making her stop.

“Seriously Tom? I’ll never forgive you for this. You know I love famous people.”

I sit her down in front Law and Order: The Rapey One, go back to the laptop and start searching online for TV stars named “Derek”.

Scotch

My mother once worked as a teacher’s assistant at my local primary school. She was assigned to one particular kid. He was, what in those days, people called “a bit slow”.  Or as the Americans, even to this day, call “retarded.”

My brother was in this same class and one time watched over at my mum as the kid picked up a Lego piece off the floor, stared at it for a minute, looked up to my mother, his helper, and asked “What’s this?”

My mother, ever the professional, replied with “What do you think it is? A scotch egg?”

My mum didn’t continue as a teacher’s assistant but the phrase “What do you think it is? A scotch egg?” became a long running joke.

Now I live in here, in the US. I’m only a few months in but before this, I lived in China for two and half years. Due to my fondness for a particular American girl and Buffalo chicken wings I may never end up living in England again.

It’s sunny. Walking home, clutching my bag, I couldn’t feel happier. All thanks to a Scotch egg.

But I love England. I feel English and British. But mainly English. I’m not one of those ex-pats who love to knock England. I once met a guy in China who grew up down the road from me. I had a brief conversation with him once, where he referred to Reading as a “Nasty scar on a shithole of an island.” It was probably this conviction that led him to manage ‘The British Bulldog’ pub in Shanghai.

For me, my love of England and Reading has probably grown since I don’t spend much time there. I miss it. A lot.

So this Saturday I take a walk to ‘Myers of Keswick.’ Which is a British market shop in the West Village. I’m in the mood for crisps. Something not adequately provided by standard shops over here. I walk up to the till carrying a load of cut price Quavers as the owner strolls out of the back holding a paper plate with cut up quarters of Scotch egg on.

“Have some of this. Made fresh.” He says.

I thank him. Pick up the food and pop it in my mouth.

I’ve never had fresh and warm Scotch egg before. It’s only ever been cold from a ‘reduced to clear’ packet. It tastes as good as anything could ever taste. It tastes of home.

The owner, with a thick northern accent, Northern accents are better than Southern accents, nods and says “Isn’t it nice?”

I think I want to hug him. Perhaps he could be my adopted American father.

“It’s fantastic, thank you.” I say.

“Have some more.” He says.

I do. I purchase some as well, pay and head out carrying my shopping bag emblazoned with the Union Jack.

It’s sunny. Walking home, clutching my bag, I couldn’t feel happier. All thanks to a Scotch egg.

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