Tales from the Site Canteen (1)
By Paul Tublord 

Sitting in the canteen on a site in Brighton and it’s like someone has cloned workers. 50% of them have tattooed hands and necks and beards and have clearly been missing leg day at the gym. 30% are Polish who all share their food, bringing a lunch box each of all sorts of interesting looking veg and meat. 19% are old miserable c***s sitting on their own taking up whole tables. 1% are Nigerian, talking loudly in clicks and eating curried fish for breakfast. One guy in the corner with a stiletto knife eating apples and cheese looks like a murderer.

Skinny legged tattooed monkey with a meet-at-MacDonald’s hair cut has eight boiled eggs for breakfast. His shorter but almost identical work mate has encouraged him to go to the snack van and get a bacon, and other builder ingredients, baguette. The miserable c***s arrive early to secure their tables in the extremities of the canteen. Fresh-Faced-And-Shiny-Boots eats mum’s sandwiches. The third Oasis brother arrives. I kind of like him. He almost got sacked on Monday but survived. He stopped a young lad getting bullied a couple of weeks ago. 

Smarmy Jamaican swaggers in sucking his teeth cos the girl on the snack van keeps spurning his advances and broke the yolk on his egg. Man Bun enters looking bewildered. Gentle Polish Pinocchio has a jar of potted meat. Third Oasis sets about doing the Daily Star crossword. I am sure this is his way of trying to distance himself from the c***s. Last week’s bully is sitting alone wearing red headphones drinking original Lucozade. Old bald and gnarly as fuck brickie foreman has blown out bigger bogies than most of the tattooed skinny leg crew. 

Logistics manager for the electrical and mechanical contractors has size 14 feet. I am drinking my black Darjeeling tea wondering what the fuck I am doing here. When did we stop bowling around? Why are all these guys taking tiny steps. Mincers. Jamaican Swaggers has sat at my table. Gobby ginger hoddie in his Adidas trackie will one day be a sound fella but he’s young and stupid. Food sharing Polish arrives. Yoghurt lid lickers. Instagram boys compare unobtainable females. Arabic ringtones and Polski banter. I am going to smoke a roll-up. 

Ecstatic bricklayers rejoice the rain. It’s definitely poets’ day for them. Roy Orbison Glasses sits dunking Rich Teas in his stainless steel mug. Three small tubs containing sugar, coffee and whitener positioned so as to secure the whole table. Size 14 is sitting with a guy who I would bet my last pound has a train set in his attic. He’s making banana sandwiches on a brown seventies plate. Third Oasis arrives and goes to his locker. Roy Orbison eats a Muller fruit corner. Polish Pinocchio smiles at train set guy. Train set guy pulls more bananas from his bag for life and offers Polish Pinocchio one. This is a good site. Four microwaves pinging. Bully enters. Swaggers swaggers in.

Third Oasis borrows milk from Natty Dread. Paint splattered youth has a bucket of KFC. It’s one thirty. I have native shrub mix to plant. There is still hope. Gobby ginger hoddie isn’t a mincer. He’s definitely a bowler.

Read page two here


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