Yesterday, I reaffirmed my dislike of Wagamama, allowing myself to be dragged to the Waterloo branch for lunch with TSB. We passed a perfectly good Canteen on the way there, and my stomach growled at the aroma of pies (mmm, piiies...) but 'twas not to be. A lank-haired Wagawaiter brimming with positivity seated us across from one another on one of their long benches, sandwiched between an older and younger woman pairing (mother and daughter?) and what looked like a standard-issue London gay male couple having an argument.
Usually with Wagamama, it's the food itself that irks me. Sure, it's healthy, but health-smugness only goes so far in the face of identikit blandness: indistinguishably sloppy half-soups that taste like unseasoned meat and vegetables floating in warm water in which quarter of a stock cube has been dissolved. I always come away craving flavour and crunch.
This time, however, the food was the least annoying element. Being fair to TSB, it was half-term; I don't suppose it's usually that packed, the entrance so clogged with pushchairs and other child-rendering paraphernalia. The staff took a good twenty minutes, half an hour to even take our order and, in that time, I think we'd both become hugely uncomfortable with the ambient level of neighbouring mano e mano conflict poisoning the atmosphere.
As arguments go, it seemed a peculiarly one-sided one. I'd taken the two men for partners but, while they clearly were having A Talk About Us, there appeared to be a financial dynamic too, with one haranguing the other (in soft but persistently aggrieved tones) about "how much I pay you". Absolutely relentlessly, for at least twenty minutes, leaning across the table, broadcasting murmured pique and a repeated it's-for-your-own-good-that-I'm-doing-this refrain. Agh. TSB, who was in the collateral damage zone of the aggressor's line-of-admonishment, looked sicker and sicker. The haranguee spoke maybe twice then stopped trying to defend himself and just sat, eyes downcast, accepting it all.
Scrupulously avoiding any sort of acknowledgment that all this emotional scab-picking was happening only inches away, I inclined slightly towards the couple on our other side, and kept accidentally making eye contact with the older woman. When I said something to TSB, she'd start slightly; I think she wondered, on at least two occasions, whether I was addressing her. I felt trapped, elbow reined in, able to look only straight ahead at TSB until the slop arrived.
It was too much humanity, too close.
A bit like the premise of Dead Set, then, Charlie Brooker's Big Brother zombie meltdown (hey, there's that apocalyptic theme again). It's running all this week and the first episode, set during a BB eviction night was absolute must-see television: slick, well-shot, much more straight-out horror in the mix than Sean Of The Dead and much scarier zombies (I blame Danny Boyle for teaching zombies to run - and yesss, I know those weren't technically zombies). Plenty of humour, though, both in the uncannily well-observed lines ("do toes have bones in them?" clearly referencing the likes of "East Angular?" and "I love blinking, I do") and the absurd juxtaposing of familiar and horrific: carnage erupts to Mika's Grace Kelly.
(Incidentally, the moment at the end of that song where Mika goes, "ker-ching!" still sets my teeth on edge more than any amount of fire extinguisher skull-bludgeoning. I usually rush to change CD/ipod track to avoid it.)
Jaime Winstone excellent (her character much less flaky than in Donkey Punch) and Andy Nyman's beary producer (the most identifiable mouthpiece for Brooker's trademark rants) both engaging and really quite fanciable, but it was Zombie Davina that stole the show. Zombie Davina!
I actually thought she acted being a zombie better than she acted herself. The bit where she's slumped against the wall, throat torn out, is good too; they'd made her zombification a literal Watercooler Moment.
I'm looking forward to seeing the real ex-BB Housemates as zombies, too. Brian Belo, with his weird blue contact lenses, is over halfway there already.