Photo by John Williams (2009)











































Miss Havisham and Fred Astaire

are dining
at the Mangal Ocakbasi.

Meat slaps.
Smoke swirls.
A customer goes haywire
with a carving-fork.

But they remain oblivious.

She wears a diamante brooch.
He wears high-waisted pants
with pleats.

All eyes are fixed.

We couldn’t hear their words.
Could only drool
at golden epithets
that flooded from their lips.

We tear greedily
at charcoaled flesh.
They pick delicately
at kedgeree and monkey-tail.

The waiters josh and jostle
near the rack
where lolling meat
obligingly awaits.

Then the youngest,
crimson-faced with shame
and tightly-fitting collar
scuttles up
like an enamoured crab
and stretches out a menu
for an autograph.

The diners hold their breath.

But with a flash of perfect teeth
the emperor of the ballroom
pens his signature
and, with a gracious flourish,
his glittering companion
adds her name.

She rises from the table
turns round and drapes
the proffered cloak
round alabaster shoulders.
The Emperor bestows the youth
a handsome tip.

And as they trip a foxtrot
to the exit
We form a guard of honour
one and all
with waving pide bread
and flashing cleavers
and stomp and cheer
their comet trail
down Kingsland Road
until it fades from view

Then, mournfully, turn back to plates
attack the remains
of our mountainous special mixed.