‘Oh darllinngggg darling how are you? How, are, you?’ The shaved head ultra career-socialite, middle aged woman hollered in the middle of a chain coffee shop right in front of Sibylla’s table. Before the man who recognised her could reply the woman bellowed ‘I’m at the Royal the Academy now, ya ya, (listen up everyone I’m richer and more successful than you!) Catering wasn’t for me I had no life. Now I work at the Royal Academy (did the whole cafe hear that, pause for jealous gasps of amazement) we have moved to the posh bit of Putney (originally built for the working classes as London’s first housing estate) four bedrooms, dogs, two bathrooms (more than you’ve got).’
‘A swimming pool and room for a pony?’ Sibylla wanted to blurt out remembering Keeping Up Appearances on TV. But instead she squinted at her laptop that still hadn’t been paid for and grumbled she had never felt so poor.
The woman spun on her heels and started snapping orders about work to colleagues on various tables. No one else seemed to be speaking. Does she know this is Pret, not a boardroom, Sibylla wondered. All she had to boast of was a decade on state benefits, a charity owned flat with no sufficient windows in the ugliest edge of Brackenbury village and a bag full of catheters and notebooks. As she spoke her accent leaked with the voice of East End working class, too many cigarettes, all glazed over with city exquisiteness. it sounded an extra vocation to keep up.
There was a deep perverse longing to stand up and in the same false accent flail her hands declaring ‘I have a half sized toilet in a cupboard and sleep on a broken futon, my head only a piece of wood away from stinking noisy traffic. It’s fabulous darrrrlllllinnnggs.] Do the splits and return to her lunch.
She kept quiet and stuffed her mouth with the chewy pickle baguette.