The food arrives. I pick up the ketchup bottle and shake it vigorously, noting that it's a proper tiny heinz bottle. Then I remove the top, there is a loud pop, and ketchup explodes all over me. I am spattered from head to waist in red gobs like an extra from a zombie movie.
I sit: mouth open, glazed expression, ketchup bottle in one hand, lid in the other; auditioning for 'Shaun of the Dead'. I am waiting for something to happen. Something that will take it away. It dawns upon me that nothing is taking it away and that I am definitely covered in tomato ketchup. I fumble for my paper napkin and dab ineffectively at it, smearing it across my favourite jumper, rubbing it into my bag, spreading it on my jeans.
The man sitting adjacent to me rubs at the back of his head. He is on the edge of the splatter zone, and perhaps three tiny pin pricks of ketchup have ricocheted from me and settled lightly onto his hair. He rubs vaguely at the back of his head, as though awakening from a nap.
'I thought I felt something.'
I am still absorbing my coating of ketchup. I do not reply. I am incapable of response. I am unusually speechless. I am really really fucking pissed off.
It has been a bad week. A really bad week. A properly bloody awful week. I am, perhaps, a tiny bit touchy. I was a bit touchy before I got covered in tomato ketchup, and here, in the pub, right now, this is the last straw. This...gentleman, wishes to accept my apology for opening a bottle of ketchup which has exploded all over me, my cashmere jumper, my bag, my arms and my legs, and incidentally has completely missed my plate of food.
I see red.
I shout at the man. There is an alarming moment when I think P might hit him. I take the ketchup bottle to the bar and shout at the barman. I go to the Ladies and when the drier doesn't work I shout at the barman again on the way back. I repress the urge to upend my half-drunk pint over the man's head. Barely. The barman comes and nervously tells me it is a 'freak incident'. I suggest calling The Fortean Times. He doesn't get it. I tell him to forget it.
I eat my cold, ketchupless scampi.