Fish out of water

It’s just after ten thirty in the morning when two young men saunter into the French café-cum-Brazilian-restaurant in Stockwell. The usual regulars in attendance – a middle-aged couple sitting outside chain-smoking Benson and Hedges cigarettes – raise their eyebrows at the peculiar sight in their midst, but soon return to their smoke-shrouded conversation. One of the young men, dressed in a white t-shirt so tight it leaves no doubt as to the extent and intensity of his exercise regime, chooses a table and sits down. He casts a sideways glance at his reflection in the wall to wall mirror and makes a small adjustment to his carefully sculpted hair before nodding his approval. His friend, in matching t-shirt and a pair of denim shorts that look too tight for comfort if not fashion, heads over to the counter where an attractive Brazilian lady is polishing glasses. She looks about forty but could be older. Her brown hair tumbles over her shoulder in loose curls and when she turns away to open the fridge the young man steals a glance at her behind, which sits snugly inside a pair of white skinny jeans. She turns back to him and he skilfully averts his eyes to the row of optics lined up like sentries behind her. She flips the caps off the beers, adds two slices of lime and hands them to him. He re-joins his companion at the table.

Several minutes later he shouts across the room to the woman. “Don’t s’pose there’s a River Island around here somewhere is there love?” he says in a strong Essex accent. The woman’s lips spread into a bemused smile. She shakes her head, wipes her hand on a tea towel. “Brixton,” she says, “that’s the nearest place for shops.” The young men thank her and drain their beers. With a final readjustment of their hair and outfits they walk outside. “Not from ‘round here,” one of the regulars says to the other as they watch them go. “Nope,” says the other, exhaling a stream of smoke through her nose as fat splodges of rain begin to fall down from the sky.

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