[EASTENDERS CREDITS, DUM-DE-DUM-DUM-DUM DUM DUM ETC. BARRY WALKS INTO THE QUEEN VIC, SHORTLY AFTER THE NEWS THAT WALFORD IS TO BETTER REFLECT MODERN EAST LONDON. HE IS GREETED BY PEGGY MITCHELL.]
[INTERIOR, QUEEN VIC. DAYTIME.]
PEGGY MITCHELL: ‘Ello darling! ‘Ow are you?
BARRY: Orlright Peggy, I’m orlright. Blimey, what’s ‘appened in ‘ere then? [BARRY GESTURES AROUND THE PUB.]
PEGGY: Oh! You ent been ‘ere for a few years, ‘ave you, what with ‘aving been murdered by Janine and now implausibly coming back to life, after your acting career dried up and you ended up singing for coins at the Indoor Bowls Championship. Well it’s all change round old Walford way an’ no mistake!
BARRY: I can see that Pegs, I can see that. But what’s ‘appened to the Vic? There never used to be that ironic picture of Chairman Mao in the snug. Anyway, pint of unspecified lager, there’s a luv.
PEGGY: Oh we don’t do the weird generic BBC-product-placement-guideline-friendly drinks any more, Bazza. Doesn’t go down well with the kids with beards and fishermen’s jumpers at that web analytics firm that’s taken over Minty’s garage. It’s all craft beers, needlessly strong Belgian tramp fuel and imported American microbrewery products now. Pint of Bulldog Brews India Pale Ale? Or maybe a bottle of Delirium Tremens?
BARRY: Er… I’ll have the ale? I suppose?
PEGGY: ‘Ere you go Bazza. That’ll be £6.40 please.
[BARRY STORMS OUT IN JUSTIFIABLE HUFF, LEAVING LUDICROUS BEER UNTOUCHED. CRIES OF “LEAVE IT BARRY, ‘E AIN’T WORF IT” ECHO OUTSIDE. IAN BEALE WALKS IN.]
IAN: Cor, wassup wiv ‘im then?
PEGGY: Dunno luv! I hadn’t even got on to explaining the specials board yet. The pan-seared calf’s liver with buttered mustard kale and sweet potato mash is particularly good, and a steal at £17. Lawks. Cor blimey. Anyway darlin’, what can I get you?
IAN: Pint of Titanic Brewery Vanilla and Chocolate Stout, please. In a pewter tankard. [PEGGY POURS, CHARGES IAN A KING’S RANSOM. IAN TAKES A DEEP DRAUGHT.] Mmm, that’s the stuff. Ah, today’s a day for celebratin’, Pegs.
PEGGY: That right luv? Wass the good news then?
IAN: Finally sold the old fish an’ chip shop and the flat! To some 23-year-old from Bedfordshire with tortoiseshell glasses and a tattoo of a dragon on what I imagine he would claim is his bicep. Says ‘e’s gonna turn it into a fish an’ chip shop.
IAN: Sorry. An aufentic old-style east London fish an’ chip restaurant. Beer-battered plaice and hand-cut skin-on chips. Crushed minted peas. That sorta fing. Served in real yesterday’s newspapers. £9 a pop.
PEGGY: Well, the old neighbourhood’s changin’, ain’t it? ‘Ow much did you get, if you don’t mind me arskin’?
IAN: £1.2 million.
PEGGY: Cor blimey.
More by Tom Chivers