Eventually, I got so bored I ended up at Burger King. For no other reason than to amuse myself one evening, after doing next to nothing all day, I entered the car park of the Ladymead retail park outside Guildford.
I wasn’t hungry but I convinced myself I would like a bean burger, because it was either that or sit at home watching the builder boyfriend watching Bangers and Cash, a TV show about old cars for unreconstructed men like him. And I had done that for what seemed like 175 almost consecutive evenings already.
I had one of these bean burgers once or twice as a student in the 1990s when I was flirting with vegetarianism as young people did in those days, not with joyless zeal but in a harmless, apolitical way that ended back at steak and chips when money started coming in from gainful employment.
Inside the cheerful, brightly lit building, there were seven or eight customers milling about, but the man behind the counter called me forward to say that they were waiting for their orders.
What did I want? ‘I would like a bean burger,’ I said innocently.
There followed an existential explanation of the difference between a New Veggie Burger and a Vegan Bean Burger.
I glanced at the colourful pictures of juicy beefburgers on the walls, complete with calories in small print — a single burger carried nearly 1,000.
‘All I know is that it used to be called a bean burger,’ I said, searching.
‘Ah yes, but you want mayonnaise and cheese and all the stuff on it?’ he said, which was reading my mind. I nodded.
‘Then that’s a New Veggie Burger.’