Valerie McLoughlin

Valerie McLoughlin, fast hurtling towards retirement in 2022, is planning her future again, hoping that writing will feature heavily.  Mother of four grown up children, grandmother to seven, Valerie currently works in DCU. She attended St Patrick’s College as a mature student from 2000 to 2003, studying History and Human Development. With apologies to all those children and grandchildren, she sees those student years as being close to the best three years EVER. Valerie attended one of Tanya Farrelly’s online creative writing workshops during one of the lockdowns and she enjoys reading, cooking, walking and swimming – or, what is now known as Wild Swimming; in truth, she is a Covid Swimmer and credits it with keeping her sane.

Takeaway

You could tell she was disrespectful by the way she stood at the hatch, shaking the sugar sachet, with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth. She might have been chewing gum too to add to the general picture of couldn’t give a toss.  A right Karen, I thought. 

She was waiting on her takeaway burger and tea, her mate sauntering over to join her. “So, your name is Tom is it ”? she googlie-eyed up at the poor sweating barman.  The massive barbeque in the small outdoor space was making working conditions more than a bit unpleasant. She was not from around here; we don’t like that talk around here. 

“Yeah” he replied, glancing nervously over at me to where I was waiting for my burger and pint. All to take away of course. The irony of Covid times – they will only serve you alcohol if you ARE driving. 

The sandwich board offered burgers, wings, fish and chips and pints for takeaway, but no, our gum- chewing, smoke- blowing townie didn’t believe so, as she took her food, giving Tom a last smirk and sauntered over to where her mate had gone to put her ass on a table, a table that the poor eejits in the pub were using to block off their unusable beer garden. The whole beer garden, criss-crossed with black and yellow tape looked like a crime scene, but that wasn’t putting off our harpies. 

To hell with this.  “Sorry, but maybe you didn’t understand, it is takeaway only” I called over, not minding my own business. “It’s kinda the rule now” I added, feebly, wishing now that I had kept my mouth shut.  Without looking up, she continued to unpack her breakfast special, and, taking a big drag of her cigarette, she raised her head and looked me up and down, “I did take it away, I took it from the hatch” she said, and stuck the cigarette back in her mouth. 

Now I had started, I may as well continue and my gander was up.  “They mean take it away from here; you are eating it here”.  

“Really, and what’s it to you”? she asked, not unreasonably I guess. What is it to me? Now the two couples waiting for their food are watching intently, enjoying what might turn into a fight, fight, fight!!

“I guess I have a problem with people who don’t care about other people”.  Feeling a bit braver with an audience I assumed was on my side, I threw in my best line “…and when they say takeaway they really mean, take it away – take it the fuck away!

She stood up, flicked her cigarette butt on the ground, grinding it out– another transgression – her mate with her shiny leatherette trousers standing too: “Listen missus, I don’t give a shite what they mean. He took my money, there are no signs telling me not to eat here.  I am eating here so why don’t you just fuck off”.  

So I did.

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