Limmud has a meat dining room. It opens at 6pm each evening and, being much smaller than the regular dining room, participants are only allowed to eat there on one of the four nights of Conference (a token must be handed in for the privilege). On other occasions we’re sentenced to the cavernous main dining room and a tragic life un-meated.
Last night I went for my meat dinner. This is the story of what happened.
5:45pm – join queue, about five metres long.
5.46pm – elderly couple from Manchester casually stroll down the corridor, get into a chat with the family in front of me. Overhear a conversation, “Will the pork be glatt kosher?”
5.48pm – elderly couple from Manchester begin drifting forward in the queue, keeping up with the family in front.
5.51pm – elderly couple from Manchester are now basically fully ensconced ahead of me in the queue. Classic chat-and-cut manoeuvre and very artfully executed (as, no doubt, the animals being served inside were).
5.55pm – queue reaches far end of corridor. Overhear a conversation: “We don’t use the term ‘annexation’. We use the term ‘extending civilian control’.”
5.56pm – queue begins bending back on itself in an Escher-like spiral, so those who have been waiting for 10 minutes begin to rub shoulders with those who only just turned up.
5.58pm – queue-jumpers turn out in droves.
5.59pm – all distinctions between the two columns of the doubled-up queue totally break down. Family members who had had ‘places saved for them’ begin arriving; queue officially begins growing in width rather than length.
6pm – meat dining room opens bang on time in orderly fashion. Oh no wait, that’s what would happen if we were an orderly people. Just my little joke. Overhear a conversation, “I was listening in and I was just astonished at how fascist she was!”
6.04pm – people at the back of the queue(s) assume that the dining room must be open by now so start pressing forward.
6.05pm – doors of dining room buckle dangerously inwards.
6.06pm – dining room opens. People who had been at the front leaning on the doors fall into the room in comical style.
6.07pm – people file in.
6.08pm – proceedings grind to a halt as it transpires that 20-30% of those in the queue don’t have their meat meal tokens but want their extenuating circumstances to be considered in depth by the bemused teenage volunteers desperately trying to maintain order and a monopoly on the legitimate use of force.
6.16pm – admitted to dining room. Enter clever one-way system around the self-service food counters.
6.19pm – successfully compile meal. Wait patiently to leave one-way system.
6.20pm – wait patiently to leave one-way system.
6.21pm – wait patiently to leave one-way system.
6.22pm – wait patiently to leave one-way system.
6.23pm – wait to leave one-way system.
6.25pm – realise that both ends of one-way system converge on one narrow thoroughfare.
6.26pm – violate the Highway Code’s rules on box junctions and force my way out of the labyrinth. Take a seat near the entrance.
6.31pm – realise that sitting near the entrance is like living in a show-flat and everyone walking in peers closely at my plate for a sneak preview of the meal (it was Chinese themed as it happens, as people discovered by Peking at my plate).
6.32pm – FOOD!
PS: I do love Limmud though.