Some like it hot

Paul prefers his sandwiches with the crusts cut off, but he keeps them on because he resents the proportion of each slice that he’d have to jettison otherwise.

Sitting in the canteen with Janet and her Tesco BLT wrap, he grumbles at the waste. Janet suggests that he could feed the crusts to the birds. He does not tell her that he doesn’t like feeding the birds because they will be, more likely than not, just pigeons. The decent birds will steer clear.

As his mother often remarks, he has plain tastes, does Paul. She says it at family gatherings, for example, when she places his Bird’s Eye peas well away from the meat or makes sure that his eggs don’t touch the beans.

What nobody knows is that on Friday nights, he orders a lamb jalfrezi from Spice of India. He shovels and sucks at his spoon until his tongue and throat burn, his nose streams, his eyes water and his forehead drips. Alone, this chaos pleases him.