Opinion

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

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Danny Wallace
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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.

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“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.

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“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…

(Image: Dogancan Ozturan)