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Danny Wallace and the Curious Incident of the Spatula at the Pub Crawl

"I can’t carry a spatula into a kebab house"

Danny Wallace and the Curious Incident of the Spatula at the Pub Crawl
14 December 2017

I have arranged to meet up with Colin for what will be an old-fashioned pub crawl.

Just a couple of lads! On the razz! A kebab to finish!

It is going to be fantastic, which means that something is going to go wrong, because going on a pub crawl is simple, which means something is going to complicate it. That something has always been Colin, and I spot the problem within seconds of him arriving.

“What’s that?” I say.

“It’s your spatula,” he says, tossing it down on the table.

I stare at it. It’s red and rubber and definitely a spatula. And he’s right: it does look familiar. But all spatulas look familiar, because all spatulas look like spatulas.

“You lent it to me years ago,” he says.

I have no memory of this. It’s not something you’d put in a diary.

“Why did I lend you a spatula?” I say.

“Because I didn’t have one, and I was like, ‘Can I borrow this?’”

The story certainly seems to fit. And I start to have a vague memory of it. I think I asked him what he needed it for and he said he didn’t really know, he just knew he didn’t have one.

“I found it while clearing the flat, and I thought, ‘Oh, lucky, I’m seeing Dan tonight.’”

I frown.

“So you thought you’d bring it with you?” I say. “You thought you’d bring a spatula to a pub crawl?”

“Yeah, to give it you back,” he says, and he looks offended.

“But now I have to carry a spatula around with me!” I say.

This is very unfair of him. He never thinks about the impact of his actions. He’s returning a spatula, yes, and we must all applaud him for that, but he’s returning it to a man on a night out. If I’m seen at night walking around the local area carrying a spatula, people are either going to think I have no idea how to protect myself, or I’m on a low-budget stag do. And I can’t carry a spatula into a kebab house. They’ll think I’m looking for work.

“Well, you might as well have thrown it away,” I say, “because I’m leaving this here.”

I push the spatula a few inches away to show how serious I am.

“You can’t leave it in the pub!” he says. “Someone will nick it!”

He seems very attached to this spatula all of a sudden, but you have to ask: who’s wandering from pub to pub, thieving spatuli?

“Just stick it in your pocket!” he says, and I show willing and try, but now I’m just a man with utensils poking at his belt. I look like a vastly under-prepared culinary Batman.

“You did this on purpose,” I say. “Because you thought it would be funny to make me carry a spatula around all night and now I’m going to have to throw away a perfectly good piece of rubberised kitchenware all to satisfy your impish sense of humour.”

I make it sound exactly as criminal as it is.

“I borrowed a spatula and now I’m returning it,” he counters, denying the undeniable game of power he has instigated, “because I don’t want it in my flat any more!”

He’s not going to win that easily. I have an idea.

“But this means you now won’t have a spatula,” I say, making a sad face. “We can’t have that. Please – we have many spatulas at home.”

“Oh, la-dee-da.”

“I want you to have it. I am giving it to you. It’s yours.”

I raise my glass to my lips, in a bold move that screams ‘I will hear no more about it’.

“Are you sure?” he says, as a slow smile creeps across his face. Now I become paranoid that this entire event has been a ruse to get me to give him my spatula. Has he had this all planned out from the start? What if it’s a really good one? So I change tack.

“Actually, what am I doing?”

I say, regaining the upper hand. “You don’t want to carry a spatula around with you all night. Let’s just leave it here.”

If I can’t have this spatula, no one’s having it!

“No, I’ll take it,” he says, on the back foot.

“But you don’t want it in your place,” I say. “That’s what you said. We’re leaving it, even though it is perfectly good and usable and such a waste.”

Colin bristles. But I am stronger than him. I am going to sacrifice this spatula that he brought out as a purposeful inconvenience and he will never sleep well again knowing it could have been his but for his own arrogance.

“I’m having it,” he says, whipping it off the table and stuffing it in his pocket.

HA! I have won! I have forced a man to keep something that belongs to me! For no charge whatsoever! What kind of crazy political genius am I? I should be in charge of Brexit or something!

“I’ll get the pints in as a thank you,” says Colin, but I know what he’s doing and I’m having none of it.

“The pints are on me tonight, my friend,” I say, and I wander to the bar, all cocky, knowing that if I really want to teach Colin a lesson tonight, I’m going to have to pay for the kebabs, too…

The Danny archive:

Making the most of room service

Beginning my new life as a yoga devotee

The perils of forgetting to RSVP to a party

A networking event like no other

When textspeak becomes actual language

Learning the unwritten rules of the commute

The etiquette of paying a busker

Using a website to learn how to fold socks the right way

(Image: Dogancan Ozturan)