Midnight, Saturday. The taxi queue is a mile long, home is a 40-minute stagger away, it’s raining again and you’re wishing you hadn’t drunk eight pints of beer. And then you spot a garish neon sign beyond an awning in front of a dirty white van: Karl’s Kebab’s – to you, it’s the modern day equivalent of the Holy Grail
“Mine’sadonerthanksmate”, you mumble, flinging the contents of your pocket on the counter. Karl grins as his chubby, grubby fingers relieve you of the best £5.25 you’ve ever spent before slapping a dusty white pitta on a hotplate and taking a lethal-looking blade to what appears to be a charred elephant’s leg slowly revolving on a spit, rivulets of fat spitting against the electric grille behind it. “Salad?”, Karl barks, splitting the pale, flaccid pitta. “Yes please – verrry healthy, is salad”, you burble. So Karl fills the doughy pocket up with damp lettuce, soggy tomatoes and a pickled green chilli still dripping vinegar from the jar. “Sauce?”, he asks, waving a spoon caked in the sticky, black remains of three week old ketchup over a plastic tray. “Yeah sauce, yeah!”, you belch, enthusiastically. So Karl treats you to garlic, chilli and yoghurt varieties, because by now he’s your best mate ever.
Five minutes later, and you’ve scoffed Britain’s most popular post-pub takeaway: 800 fat and salt laden calories-worth of ancient, perpetually reheated doner kebab – and it was the best thing you’ve tasted all year. Still no sign of a taxi, though.