I was looking out of the kitchen window, at wet rooftops and a slate sky, the view only slightly brightened by a splash of vomit on the window, the result of a brief but exciting liaison H had with a bottle of Jack Daniel’s. (Sorry Mum, really sorry, I’ll clean it up, honest.)
Then from a bag of crusty rolls, a yeasty smell escaped and barged its way up my nose to my brain, flipping open a bright cine-screen from a very long time ago.
I was 19, had just pitched up in Algiers with my feckless fool of a fella. I’d tell you his name but as a compulsive fantasist, he had a whole string of names and I never found out which was the real one.
We were chewing our way through warm, omelette baguettes, sitting outside a gloomy side-street cafe. The tables were wonky, their tin tops gleaming in the October sunshine. Rusty leaves crunched under our feet and around us, men chattered in Arabic, blue smoke from their French cigarettes drifting round our nostrils.
This morning repast of fresh crusty bread and yellow omelette with a crunch of salt and pepper, was deeply satisfying. It filled our bellies with the sort of tender warmth that tells you the day is going to be good.
Now, over 30 years later, in my draughty kitchen, there are brown eggs, from Lancashire hens, according to the box, crusty rolls which I’m not supposed to eat, butter which I’m not supposed to eat, and a frying pan (which nobody is supposed to eat).
Writing this, I have crumbs down my vest, satisfyingly greasy fingers and heartburn.
But the omelette in the hot butter-melty roll tasted of sunshine and for now at least, I believe the day is going to be good.