I go down to my locker in the British Library basement, to recover my lunchtime sandwich. I’m number 351. At 352 there’s one of those beautiful, raven-haired Italian PhD students named, I expect, after a classy pizza – Fiorentina, Marinara, Capricciosa (though probably not Meat Feast). A brief look passes between us, and with it comes the knowledge that something extraordinary could happen were it not for the fact that, on my part, I’m happily married to the lovely Mrs McG, and on hers that she doesn’t want to.
Then I open my locker, and out flows a deafening miasmic stench, as if a hyena had shat in there. It’s my cheese sandwich – some noxious French stuff, soft as bronchitic mucus, left over from our dinner party on Friday. Capricciosa’s face wrinkles in disgust. I think about trying to explain the sandwich, the cheese, the dinner party, but she’s already reeled away. She’s probably assumed that I store my soiled underpants in the locker.
I lunch alone in the desolate sunshine of the courtyard. Even the pigeons shun my crumbs.