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No More The Wiser


It's not every day you get an offer like that. In fact, most days, you don't get an offer at all.

     I was, as the saying goes, 'just minding my own business.' My business at the time was catering, well, waiting - if you want to put it bluntly. And it wasn't really my business in any case. I was just helping out a friend who had a little sideline providing food and drink for functions all over the city. Nothing much, just some snacks of questionable provenance and even more questionable hygiene, and wine which even I could understand was closer to the end of the urinary process than the beginning.

     Anyway, my buddy was desperate for staff one night and asked me to fill in. 'Just stand there. Hold the tray. If they want something, they can take it themselves.' And that was pretty much how it was. No mingling. No small talk. No deference. But there was a uniform — dark, polyester, and sadly ill-fitting. I can't say that I couldn't get into it as such. More like, once I had it on, I couldn't get out of it.

     So I was feeling like a clown. I tried to put the tray over my gut and hope for the best. The clock on the wall was my only friend in there, and, believe me, it wasn't doing me any favours. It was going to be a long two hours.

     And then.

     'My word!' A woman. A well-dressed woman. Talking to a man.

     'It's amazing!' the man replied. They were more or less in my face.

     'Has anyone ever told you-' the woman began. But some excitement overtook her, and she couldn't finish the question. 'It's just so … incredible!'

     Well, I'd never heard of Ignatius J. Reilly. But I just went with it. I told them I'd never acted. They said it didn't matter. They could work round it.

     We went to lunches. We had meetings. Then we didn't.

The film was never made.

     After that, it just seemed wrong to read the book.

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