Categories

PART OF THE Making Memories ISSUE

‘After I gave birth to the twins, you surprised me with a feast of things I’d had to give up while pregnant: bubbly, Brie and prawns.’

BooksfromScotland’s New Year’s Resolution is to read more short stories. And we’ve loved delving into Dan Brotzel’s collection, Hotel Du Jack, released later on this month. His stories are playful, funny and can really tug at the heart strings. We’re sharing two brilliant pieces of flash fiction, and we hope you enjoy them enough to spur you on to investigate the full collection.

 

Stories taken from Hotel Du Jack
By Dan Brotzel
Published by Sandstone Press

 

Listing to Port

 

SATURDAY

Alka Seltzer

Vit B tabs (ones that fizz)

Coffee

Red Bull

Doritos

Eggs

Sausages (thick ones)

Mail/Mirror/FourFourTwo

 

TUESDAY

Smints

Mouthwash

Nice boxers

Bananas

Condoms

Guardian/Economist/Vanity Fair/TLS

Get cash out (loads)

Condoms

 

FRIDAY

Condoms

3 bottles red wine (min £12 each)

Big pack spaghetti

2 medium onions

Olive oil

3 garlic cloves (how many bulbs = 1 clove?)

500g lean minced beef

90g chestnut mushrooms

400g can chopped tomatoes

Hot beef stock (or cold and reheat?)

Worcestershire sauce

Ground black pepper

Sea salt

Tomato puree

Freshly grated parmesan (to serve)

1tsp oregano

Teaspoons!

Decent plates

Knives

Forks

Daffodils

Vase for flowers

Wine glasses

CDs? (timeless but not cheesy – Motown?)

CD player

Speakers

Subscribe to Spotify (no ads)

Get laptop fixed

1 kg potty puree (dried herbal incense thing)

Bin bags

Dishcloths, wipes, tissues

Shake n vac stuff

Kitchen roll

Nice duvet cover/Pillow cases/Sheets

Toilet bleach x 4

Handgel

Antibacterial cleaners, all kinds

Dry-clean rugs? Curtains?

Gin (NOT Tescos own)

Fever Tree

Posh ice cream

Baileys

Croissants

Coffee

Strawberry jam

Blueberries, raspberries etc

Milk

Condoms

Furry handcuffs??

Polyfilla

 

WEDNESDAY

Nice card or nice writing paper

Perfume (expensive)

Fancy hand conditioner stuff? (posh)

Earrings or nice bracelet? (both?)

Box and bubble-wrap

Post Office – send Express? Get her to sign?

Send flowers

 

THURSDAY

Call EE – check phone working

 

FRIDAY

Call EE

Get Cosmopolitan/Marie Claire etc

Library – get that Mars & Venus book

 

SATURDAY

Call EE

Call mum

 

SUNDAY

Lager x 12

Wine box (red) (or white)

Tissues

Wotsits (big pack)

Chocolate milk

Large bar Dairy Milk

Pepperami

Potato waffles

Chocolate milk stuff

Pot noodles

Coffee!!

Band-Aids

Savlon

Doughnuts

Bottle of port (Tesco’s own)

 

 

Foods of Love

 

We met at a farmer’s market, standing by a stall offering South African beef jerky and biodynamic Stilton. I laughed as you hoovered up all the samples, feigning gourmet appreciation to cover your greed.

On our first date, we saw Super Size Me at your beloved arthouse cinema, followed by Belgian waffles and ice cream.

The next few months were a blur of weekends in bed, fortified by home-made cafés au lait and Cumberland sausage sarnies.

The day you proposed, we sat against a windbreak on the beach, one cold February morning. Remember? We shared a tray of vinegary chips to wash down the little bottle of warm Cava you’d bought along. (I’ve still got the wooden fork somewhere.)

The allotment. Years it took to get it, and then we found chard and squash were about the only things we could grow that didn’t get eaten away. But all those wonderful picnics we had there, drinking stewed tea from your grandad’s old Thermos. Rummagings in the shed. And all those excruciatingly ingenious marrow recipes . . .

After I gave birth to the twins, you surprised me with a feast of things I’d had to give up while pregnant: bubbly, Brie and prawns. Mealtimes took on their happy routine: slowcooker casseroles on a Saturday, Sunday roast, hot chocolate after the kids’ school concerts, your eccentric ‘power salads’ in summer.

For your fiftieth, I got you that French Country Cooking course you were always going on about. It was always easier to get you to cook when it was for some birthday or special event – I lacked the ‘big match temperament’, you’d say. (You lacked the ‘washing-up-as-you-go gene’, I’d reply.)

And so we entered a double-cream era of cassoulets and tartiflettes, ragoûts and terrines de veau, soufflés and coq au vin. You were happy to drive miles for an obscure ingredient or kitchen implement, something you’d only ever use once that was then tucked away in the back of the cupboard with all the other oddities.

After your scare came the keep-fit years – the bikes, the lycra, the couscous, the pine nuts, your obsession with fresh carrot juice. Our Katie marrying Alexios and the big fat Greek wedding feast his family put on – we didn’t eat for a week afterwards. Our retirement trip to Japan, and our first (and only) taste of fish sperm and curry doughnuts.

But of all the meals that make up a marriage, I never saw this one on the menu: vending-machine Hula Hoops for me, and nil-by-mouth for you.

 

Hotel Du Jack by Dan Brotzel is published by Sandstone Press, priced £8.99

Share this

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE

The Boxing Diaries click The Boxing Diaries

‘Something must change, I think, as the bell rings and rings and the fourth round starts. For the fi …

READ MORE

Who We’re Watching in 2020 click Who We’re Watching in 2020

‘If you like poems that are honest, hilarious, visceral, tender and always surprising, you should de …

READ MORE