The Coronalogues
The Coronalogues

Season 2, Episode 1 · 5 months ago

Abandoning The Lifeboat


A restauranteur contemplates the future for her beloved career and business. 

1 City, 1 Year On, 5 More Stories.

A restauranteur contemplates losing her career, a conspiracy theorist uncovers a strange plot, a young girl writes to a TV judge, a woman attempts a daring escape from a marriage and the City of Edinburgh finally addresses her own.

A second series of interconnected tales from a time like no other…

For The Coronalogues

“…a warm heated portrait of ordinary humanity…” The Scotsman.

“McAllister depicts contemporary urban life with flair and a witty sense of humour steeped in realism” The UpComing

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Look Una looks the second wave,chapter one, abandoning the life. I just can't believe this shit is happening. I mean, can anyone? Did no one see this coming? Imean, why wasn't it made clear to us that this was a possibility,because it's obviously more than a possibility. Are you telling me no one,not one person in the whole scientific community, not one person in the whole fuckingworld, have the remotest idea that this could happen the one day,out of the blue, the life you had been living, the life youplan for, had fought to get, risked everything for, would just suddenlybe made to stop. And here's the kicker. You can't have any wantingto have to wear a mask. Boom. I mean it's insane right. It'sa real it's unreal. You stop to think about it, it's justso overwhelming. So you're trying as to...

...think about it, right, butis there literally in your face all the time and deep down everyone's thinking theexact same thing, the same question. You can hear it. It's thathome in there. It's on the tip of every tongue. Will anything everbe the same again? I've been putting today off. I should have donethis last week. I made it harder by allowing myself to think that thingsmight change, that by some miracle, we would be allowed to open backup again. But I mean, I knew, deep down. I knewthey weren't going to lift the restrictions. There was no way, even ifthey had. Oh, you can server meal, but without alcohol and onlytill six PM. Brilliant. Tears for that the lifeboat. And as arestaurant we don't open till six PM. We make most of our profit outof wine. It's like telling a car repair shop they now need to exclusivelywork on fixing skateboards at night using tools made only of bread. This,the whole thing, is nuts. Now I've gotta go back in, asdo not want to have to go in and not like this, but there'spaperwork. I need to get it so we can try, try to stayafloat. So I have to go in, maybe for the last time, probablyfor the last time. Please don't make it the last time. Idon't know who I'm saying that to. Not God, obviously. If heis there, then the only one directly responsible for this shit shows him.So fuck him, and I'm not saying it to anyone. I'm just sayingit, but I'll say it again. Please don't make it the last time. And I know I get it. It's awful for everyone. I doget it. I do understand this pandemic isn't just happening to me, likeI'm not a complete Lawrence Fox, but sometimes it feels like it's happening tome more. I'm not proud of that.

I know it's not true. Iknow what pisses people off saying that. I'm aware it's not my best look, but I'm just being honest. I have felt like that. Rightly, you're wronging. Maybe we all have. Maybe that's okay. I why wasn'tprepared for was the complete lack of sympathy my life, my whole livelihood, my whole identity, the career I've slaved for, the hot hours andfurious kitchens, laser fucking focused, never dropping gear, always driving with relentlessdedication towards this one thing, this one goal I have set my heart on, and I get there with blood, sweat and tears and years of mylife and sacrifice upon sacrifice, to the point that it has forever damaged meas a normal human being. But I finally get there and I can scarcelybelieve it, and it's everything I thought it was going to be. Andjust as I'm beginning to feel like it was all maybe worth it, justas I'm beginning to finally enjoy my life, through no faults of my own andwithout warning, it's all taken away from me. I'll admit it.Since this began, I've been free full losing my Goddamn mind. My friendscould see that. It was pretty obvious. They could not not know what's happening, and so we're concerned. And then some of them, not all, but enough, some of whom I would once have called good friends ofmine, reacted like I was being over dramatic, like I've had to giveup a fucking hobby, like I was having to give up rollerblading because ofmy knees. Oh, that's such a shame. I guess you're going tohave to get an actual job now,...

...which translates from Scottish as. Ialways resented the fact you were able to make a living twatting about with food, and I'm secretly thrilled that your silly creativity has been suitably quashed. You'vebeen brought down a peg or two and will now be forced to live inthe same mundane, shitty world that sucked the goodness out of me. Youknow, one of my friends actually said to me when she heard that Imight have to close for good, I could see what they have going atstandard life. I mean, what the actual fuck standard fucking life? DoI look to you like I'm being the kind of person who wants to bein any way associated with standard life? Can you believe she said that?Do I at all sounds you like the kind of person who's going to spendone second of their limited life span working for something called Standard Life? Idon't even know what the fuck standard life does. Harvesting the dreams of childrenis my best guess, but I would rather make a living cooking street foodfor stray dogs out of dead squirrels I've scraped off the roadside than get involvedin whatever sinister shit standard life gets up to. This, by the way, was the exact same woman who was so thrilled for me when the lifeboatgot its list good food award, the same woman who always dropped my namewhen phoning up for a booking or paying the bill, constantly sniffing around fordiscounts and special treatment, which I always made sure she got. I wasgood to all my friends. I wanted them to love my restaurant, forcrying out loud. What was I showing off? Of course I was.I wouldn't I? And they did love it. They certainly kept coming back, so did everyone else. Number one on trip advisor for seafood restaurants atAdumburgh, number fucking one, and an award, actual professional recognition, formy own establishment, booking still Christmas. This was the dream coming true,and all this in less than two years. Everyone loved to everyone know as muchas me. I don't think I...

...could do this. I'm still sittingin the car park. I've been sat here for at least twenty minutes now. I can't face looking at her the way she is. What if it'sthe last time? I don't want to see her cold and empty and desolate. That's not how I want to remember her. I'm really am. Ireally going to have to remember her. There is hope, right, thevaccine and everything. We will be back in Thatt all by the summer.I mean that's what they're saying right. The lifeboat will sail again, andwon't she? This too shall pass and all that. I'll just go andquick, I'll get the stuff from the safe I need for HMRCY and getouts. Don't even have to pause. I'm at the back kitchen door.I can't remember which key is which. I try every key three times andon the fourth run through, doesn't starting to panic that someone is broken inand change the locks? One of them spontaneously decides to work and I shoulderpush the door and open. The fucking alarm starts to beep. I completelyforgot we had an alarm. Also the code turn it off. March lastyear. Oh it was muscle memory. I didn't even have to look atthe number pad. I could have done it blind drunk frequently didn't blowing drunk. Now I might as well be picking the numbers on countdown. I don'tknow the right answer. Shit, I have like ninety seconds or something.In the security firm contact a blaze. I'm gonna have to phone someone whoknows the number, and guess. Angus knows it, and guess. SoI had to let go last week a gus who started crying halfway through theZoom Paul where I was having to fire him. Angus wo had been withme since the very start. Wood promised I'd phone as soon as I getoff from work. Again that as little shit, Shit, Shit, hi, and guess. Hi. Yes, it's Emma. Look, no,that's not why I'm a guess, Angus,...'s an emergency. Listen, Ineed the number for the alarm. I've forgotten it at the restaurant.It's the code. Just tell me the code. And, because I haveten seconds, thought to s nine hundred and one. Oh, thank you, anguess. No, I'm surprised I forgot it. To know, you'reright. That is the date we opens. I I'd know. I woul couldhave forgotten it either. I'm very surprised myself. Look, and guess, I'm hoping we can get you back, but thanks for that. No,no, I appreciate that. No, I will definitely be in touch.And yes, no, I've already put the word out, but youknow how is? Everyone's in the same boat. Yes, the lifeboat.No, that is funny. No, you're the first person to say that. So as soon as we have a date for reopening. No, Iknow. Okay, thanks, Angus. Yeah, I've actually got to go. Okay, cheers now. Thanks again. Sorry, I think I'm I thinkI'm losing you so much for my Ninja entrance and exit. I closedthe door. I stand in my kitchen. It's not just the silence that getsme, but the absence of any type of smell other than the lemonysour waft of cleaning products. And everything is so still. Kitchens never still. Should never be still. Everything is supposed to move, everything should dance. A good kitchen is a constant flow of kinetic energy. The construction ofexquisite cuisine is a tango. It's a tightly choreographed ballet of time and flavorand texture and taste. It is a physical act as much as it isa culinary one. It is never stoop...

I walk into the dining area,my legs nearly go from under me. I'm hit by this acute wave ofnostalgia, like an acid flashback. It is not that empty sheet covered tablesI see, but tables set for the ghosts of customers, a montage ofmemorable meals that was served at each one table. One this couple who Idon't think had ever eaten out much before, and this type of restaurant. Imean they were just so adorably pleased to be here. I mean usuallyI'm quite easily nauseated by too much wholesome content, but this was so pure. It was just so obviously this massive treat for them, their expectation bubblingaway inside them, their delight at doing this together. They were just socompelled to enjoy everything. How they lapped up the experience with such startled delight, savoring the food and experience with such selfconscious relish. I couldn't help smilingwatching them. And and I looked around at the restaurant and all the staffwere doing the same. Not only did I send them over cocktails, Iwipe their bill. I never do that. I've had full on proposals happening here, and the most they get is a glass of our cheapest prosecco anda half. hearded round of applause. I swear to God, you wouldhave thought I had delivered this couple's baby. They both started crying, I meansnot and everything, saying this was the best night of their lives.They tip the staff almost as much as their meal cost. I mean,they were adorable, but they were idiots. I've thought about that pair so much. It always makes me smile. Table Too, not so much similarset up actually. This woman dressed up... the nines. I mean she'sgone to some effort, this poor girl. She arrives early, nervous, youcan see that. Says it's our anniversary. Ten I think she says, I can't remember. Anyway, she's sitting on her own for half anhour. He finally turns up, the husband in a track suit, theguys in a fucking track suit, and I'm not talking like snazzy designer tracksuit here. I'm talking track suit that should only be used for hangovers anddiy and the privacy of your own home track suit. Anyway, he sitsdown, she pulls out a present, beautifully wrapped. He takes one lookat it and says, what's this for? Like he resents her buying him apresent like that was a bad thing to do. I mean, yousee what this is right, every woman knows what kind of relationship this is. So already my staff are having to physically restrain me from bottling this frick. But their starters come out and I specifically tell Clara, who's serving them, to ask if everything is okay and to make direct eye contact with thewoman as she does. So, and she does, and the woman justlooks away. But I see him noticing this. He clocks it, maybethe tone in which Clara asked, but suddenly he's on it like a mongooseon a life insurance deal. His senses are pricked, Prick, and hisbeady Eyes Dart around the room and land directly on me. And I'm watchinghim and we lock stairs and I'm not looking away. Why should I?So there we are, staring at each other. Well, this poor womanis trying to comment on how lovely it all looks, and this guy,he picks up his fork, he takes one large bite of the starter,choose it comically, like he's in a cartoon like, screws his face upand spits it back onto the plate, not once breaking his stair with me. And then he stands up, he puts his fucking Hoodie on, whichhe thrown over the back of the chair, and then he walks out. Andthis woman, she's sitting there, tears streaming down her face, apologizingto the other tables for making a scene, someone on table for tutted at her. So the sweets they wanted were...

...suddenly all sold out. I couldn'thandle it watching her try to finish her starter out of embarrassment, so Iwent over and sat with her. I poured her a wine and I satand ate his meal with her. I didn't say anything about what happens.Didn't need to. I just couldn't handle her sitting alone or having to shuffleout the door back to that. So I fed her and I got herdrunk. At least I could do sisterhood right. She's a right laugh.Actually had a really dry sense of humor. I said, I suppose you gotto, don't you? I often wonder how she's getting on. Ijust want to know she's gotten rid of that asshole. You know, couldyou imagine being on lockdown with that? You'd kill him in his sleep.You'd have to table three there's two judges from the list who I spent thewhole time trying to lip read from the kitchen. At table four is satthis father and son, early twenties, I would say, the son,not the father, and the whole thing began really tense and then it becameobvious that the sun was coming out to his dad and he must have beenexpecting his dad to be upset about it, but the dad stood up and gavehis son this massive hug and kissed him and half the restaurant was intears. And Oh my God, I can't be in here. I meanevery table, every single table, poll as a reminder of what I mightlose. I have to get out of here. I go to the office, open the safe and pick up the documents. Underneath as a photo,a photo I forgot I had to put in there. It's the same photothat also hangs framed behind the bar. was taken on the ninth of Decembertwo thousand and eighteen, and it's the day we opened. Has All thestaff in it, most of whom are still with me. We're still withme. We're stood outside the front of the restaurant and I'm holding a bottleof Champagne in mid explosion. I'm standing... the right of the picture,facing the staff. The photo captures the spray a mill a second before ithits their faces, which are contorted into over animated expressions of shock and joyand fun. Looking at them always makes me laugh, but it's my ownface that captivates me. I almost not recognize it, not just my facebut the way I'm holding myself and, more specifically, the exact feeling Ihad when that photo was taken, despite the fact that I was taking thegreatest gamble of my life. Opening this place, I look the most freeI've ever looked. I put the photo back, I lock the safe,I lock the office. I walk through the dining area with my eyes firmlyfixed to the floor to avoid seeing any more fucking ghosts. I go intothe kitchen, I reset the alarm. I go out the door and Icycle through the set of keys only twice this time, and I find theright one. I go to my car, I put the papers on the backseat and then I get in and turn on the ignition. I don'tmove. I turn off the ignition, get out of the car. Firstkey I pick opens the door to the kitchen. This time, I turnoff the alarm without even looking at the keypad. I go back into theoffice, open the safe, take out the photo. I'm taking this home. This comes home with me. I'm walking through the dining area and Iswear to you I was going to go home. I stopped though. Whatif this is the last time? I'm not leaving her like this. Iwalk over to the bar and unlock the fridge that contains the two thousand andfour bottle of Claude de Guissa Philiponna, three hundred and fifty quid a bottleat the last one left, the best champagne we have and the best I'veever tasted, and I take it and I go and set a table oneI'll drink with the ghosts. I'm not ready to abandon the lifeboat just yet. Just like any good captain, I'm prepared to go down with my ship, but you better believe me when I...

...say I'll go down swinging. Iabandoning the lifeboat was performed by Crystal Evans. It was written by Ker mcallister.The music was composed by Dave B Mac. Special thanks go to SeaanaMcDonald, Krista McDonald, Scott, Edinburgh Youth Theater, Katie and Karen Cordenand all that guilda balloon, the CHRONALOGUS, the second wave is a watch thisspace production in partnership with Gilded Balloon. We all know this has been adifficult time for the arts. None of the contributors have received payment.If you have enjoyed this episode and would like to donate, then details canbe found in the audio description. Alternatively, you can donate by visiting watch thisspace productionscom or guilded balloon DOT CO DOT UK. All donations will besplit evenly amongst the contributors.

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