I met my wife Lynne on the MA in Creative Writing, and have a vivid memory – apparently entirely false – of reading this story in our workshop. We became each other’s first reader, though the exchange was hardly fair. For nearly six years I tortured Lynne with barely-altered pages from my first novel Pig – the same page, a comma changed – and sulked when she couldn’t see the improvement. In return, I was rewarded with these wonderful short stories. Several of them were spun from the day-to-day facts of our life together, in the process becoming more comic and more surreal. We were often quite poor, and the title story is based on our experience of queuing for free hand-outs of surplus EEC butter and cheese. This story, ‘A Regular Thing’, in which a young woman charges her lover for sex, isn’t autobiographical. It was much anthologised and later made into a prize-winning short film in Denmark.
First published in First Fictions: Introduction 11, Faber & Faber, 1992. Collected in New Writing 3, Minerva, 1994 and Envy At The Cheese Handout, Faber & Faber, 1995