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Leftovers Stella Newman

w/c 5 March Monday Show me someone in London who loves a Monday morning and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t take public transport, doesn’t work at NMN Advertising, and doesn’t make ads for Fletchers pizzas; pizzas that you wouldn’t feed to a dog. Not unless you’d been having an ongoing Mafia feud with that dog and his entire family for several generations. Even then you’d probably only feed that dog a single mouthful of pizza before taking pity on him and reaching for the Pedigree Chum. This morning the tube was delayed, so I was delayed, and by the time I reach the glass revolving doors of NMN, just off Charlotte Street, it’s already 7.34am. Free breakfast, courtesy of NMN, runs strictly from 6.30am to 7.30am. Free breakfast is one of the few perks still left in this office. Obviously there’s no such thing as a free breakfast and these breakfasts are a trap, designed to lure you in to work prematurely. However (and it is an important however): Sam, Head of The Post Room, has proved beyond doubt that the egg and bacon croissants NMN use as bait are worth coming in early for. For a bloke who’s spent ten years dossing around in a mail room, Sam’s remarkably good with computers. Last summer he was so bored, he created an interactive 3D model on his Mac. He programmed in all the variables: Croissant Induced Happiness versus Joys Of a Longer Lie-in Relative Density of Commuters on the Northern Line 06:00 to 08:00 Financial and Emotional Costs of an Inferior Breakfast from Somewhere Else Then he did some sums and an A3 colour printout: the croissants won. I had never even considered putting egg mayo and bacon into a croissant. Fried egg and bacon between two slices of a fresh white sandwich loaf? Sure, that’s a classic. But egg and bacon crammed into a seductively flaky French buttery croissant with melted cheese on top? If I were Robbie Doggett, NMN’s Head of Creative Thinking (and King of Trying to Be Down With the Kids even though he’s forty-nine), I’d say OMG, or hashtag ooh la la brekkie. I don’t say either. I’m thirty-six, I don’t txtspk out loud, I don’t wear £200 customised Nikes and I don’t spend all day Tweeting shite. I would simply say ‘great croissants’; but I can’t, because it’s four minutes past the freebie and they’ve been removed. Instead I head for the mail room. Sam’s sitting in his swivel chair wearing his favourite Bowie t-shirt and distressed jeans. (‘Distressed’, due to the fact that he’s worn them constantly since 1993; unlike Robbie Doggett’s jeans which are made to look distressed by a team of under-age Cambodian fabric workers who are, I suspect, genuinely distressed.) ‘Seven letters, spice from crocus…’ Sam says, looking up from the crossword and giving me a brief once over. Sam is annoyingly cute: green eyes, light brown wavy hair, and a permanently amused smile that’s the result of him being privy to every last thing that goes on in this agency. It’s a good job he’s lazy, rude and smokes all day, which work against his natural attractions and mean I don’t have to fancy him. Much. 2

‘Hold on, I know it, Sam, I do…nutmeg?’ ‘One letter short.’ He shakes his head in mock disapproval. ‘And there’s me thinking you might be hungry…’ He points his finger at a stash of goodies hiding under a paper napkin on his desk. ‘You saved one for me! You can be such a charmer…’ ‘I didn’t save one for you, I saved one for whoever solves eight across,’ he says. ‘Come on, Suze, sixth letter’s an O, you’re always good on the food questions…’ ‘O…o… Saffron. It’s saffron.’ He nods, then slides his chair over to the pile of goodies and whips the napkin away like a toreador. Not only has he saved me a croissant, he’s also snaffled a chocolate muffin. Best of all he’s ordered in some of those nice Muji fibre-tip pens that are strictly contraband in our new cost-cutting regime, and a brand new pack of turquoise Post-it notes! This is what my life has come to: elation over a pack of stolen Post-it notes. (It’s been a bad couple of years.) I could almost hug him, but Sam doesn’t do touching at all – unlike every other man in this building who does far too much touching. ‘Thanks Sam, I owe you.’ ‘Yeah, yeah…just bring me in some of that chocolate pudding next time you make it.’ ‘Which one? The roulade?’ ‘Which one’s that?’ he says. ‘Round, in slices, had raspberries in it last time.’ ‘Oh no, not interested in fruit. The one with the brownie bits on top.’ ‘Ultimate death-by-brownie cheesecake bake?’ ‘Yep.’ ‘You didn’t think it was too sweet?’ ‘No, it was good. Death by brownie. Good way to die. Better than car crash or drowning.’ ‘Happy Monday to you too.’



The second extract from Leftovers, from bestselling author of Pear Shaped, Stella Newman