I lived in a 1-bedroom flat (£89/week) above the Lobster Pot, a fish and chips shop, for a year while I did my M.A. in Science Fiction Studies at the University of Liverpool (Class of 1998), so it was a special treat to make a pitstop here on the Zero Degree of Meaning Tour.
It’s quite narrow inside the Lobster Pot. Basically the place consists of a spot to wait in line and a spot for the owner – Nick Vassapolous, also my former landlord – and his sizable Greek family to serve customers. There’s also a small back room full of large evil-smelling silver pots of sick green and puke red slime. The laundry units are in the basement of the building, and I used to have to step through, between and over the pots to get to the stairs that led to the basement and do a wash. I don’t know about the function of the slime, i.e., I’m not sure if it’s detritus or something used to cook the fried shit that the Lobster Pot sells. I don’t want to know – that shit tastes good.
Whenever I regard Mr. Vassapolous, I’m amazed by the hair. He looks like a fat Wolfman in a dirty wifebeater and apron. Each of his pores must anchor ten or more follicles. He’s a very nice and jocular and utterly alarming man.
Because of spatial constraints, and because it was so busy, Mr. Vassapolous allowed me to read from Codename Prague on the condition that I serve customers while doing so. Luckily I had memorized several chapters, prepared for this kind of mishap. It was an unruly scene. A lot of people literally fell into the shop drunk from the pubs across the street following a football match. I didn’t know if they were excited to see me, excited that I was reading to them, or just hungry. Or just drunk. I’d like to think it was a healthy combination of all of these things, but realistically, the catalyst was probably drunkenness. Whenever there is a question of a catalyst, is not drunkenness always the answer?
There’s more, as always, but I’m on a train to London and I’m very tired. Next appearance: Waterstone’s Bookstore in Picadilly Circus, Feb. 24.