Lofty: I'd like a Full English please. Mam: One Full English kebab coming up. Hang on while I stand in the window and scrape some reconstituted meat off the big swirling stick. Lofty: No, a Full English breakfast, please. Mam: Two pieces of unrecognisable chicken coated in artificial breadcrumbs and deep fried in greasy fat coming up. Lofty: No, I want bacon and egg with tomatoes and mushrooms please. Mam: The only vegetables I serve are chips. I can do you a salty burger though, or a rather dodgy looking saveloy. Lofty: Maybe not. Can you brew me a cuppa instead? Mam: I've got the complete range of Panda Pops. Will cherryade do? Lofty: You're not a real caff at all, are you? You're just a glorified falafel shop. Mam: Sorry, but nobody eats traditional English food any more. The ethnic takeaway is king around here now. Lofty: I suppose I'd better have a Pukka curry pie then. Mam: Would you like your heart attack wrapped, or open?
Mam cuts a strange figure standing beside her deep fat fryer. It's not her height you notice first, although she's certainly on the tall side. It's not her smile either, although that's always warm and genuine. No, the first thing you spot when you pop in for a takeaway is Mam's unfeasible shock of red wiry hair, swept back and piled high on top of her head. But it was Mam's siren smile that first drew me inside the door of her deep fat emporium. I used to buy all my fish and chips here, grunting my assent as she ran through all the possible condiment options. And then one afternoon I came home with a piece of undercooked cod and spent most of the following night rushing to the toilet with diarrhoea. The two events may not have been linked, but I've never been back to visit Mam since. She still remembers me though, and usually smiles through her window whenever I walk past. I got a particularly wistful stare as I stood in the middle of Bow Road taking today's photograph. I just haven't the heart to tell her that I've defected to the fish shop in Bromley High Street instead. Mam's had her chips.