Love ’em or loathe ’em, the chicken shop is a cornerstone of London living: just ask the Chicken Connoisseur. But much like weekday markets or uberPOOLs, it’s a hotbed of strange, social interaction. When you stumble towards the counter with a fiver in your hand, hangry and slurring after a long old night at a bar, pub or club, you’re very rarely alone. Here are the five characters you might meet during the late-night London chicken run.
They occupy that horrible no man’s land between knowing them too well to completely ignore and nowhere near well enough to enjoy any kind of conversation that goes beyond ‘hiya’.
The maverick ‘vegetarian’
Because they don’t eat chicken, the nonconformist veggie has been forced to a concoct wild, daring, strictly carb-based equivalent. ‘So I get chips, right, with cheese, and gravy, and onion rings, with more gravy, and mayo, and a fish finger – cos I eat fish, but only the weekends – plus ketchup, and a bit more gravy. Delicious. Can’t recommend it enough.’
‘Chuck us a couple of extra bits in mate,’ he says, already 20p short of his original order. ‘Don’t suppose you can put a bit more meat in that?’ It never works, but he doesn't give up on his drunken hunt for the perfect freebie, pausing only to ask fellow punters if they can spare him a quid.
The fighting couple
He did something, so she did something back, and now they’re screaming at each other while you’re trying to enjoy your two-piece meal. Whose side are you on? You’re not sure. But you do know that you’re more invested in this saga than anything else in your life right now. It’s like ‘Trisha’, but IRL.
The celebrity doppelgänger
Are you sure that wasn’t Phil Tufnell? It certainly bloody looked like him.