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Wednesday, 12 May 2010


It was 20 years ago today… yesterday, actually. Which doesn’t scan, and calls to mind instead a sad song and one which is somewhat dreary.

Yes, we seem to have been married, E and I, for 20 years. So we bought each other bracelets (not on purpose, just one of those twinny things) which F11 eyed lasciviously. His fingers danced in the air towards our wrists, butterfly-light and shark-sure. “How do they come off?” he asked.
We clamped a protective hand on our clasps. “They don’t,” we said as one.

We went for dinner, missing political excitement and drawing what we could from the odd clientele. An odd place, too: low key; expensive; nasty surly waitress. Good grub.

In the corner was a guy fiddling with fags and phone, what passes for a celeb round here. For someone who’s recently sold his groovy clothing label for £250 million, he hid it well. With him was a girl, a very pretty girl, in horrid shoes, shiny, silly and high and a tacky bag, shiny, holey and bling and 2 not pretty men (shoes and bags not checked). In, out, in, out, they went. Fags. Phone. Fags.

Across from us sat 4 chortling Olds, the sort of people blessed with that rare contentment: happy in their houses being a) fully paid for and b) worth about 10 times what they cost. Florid chops, head to toe in Lands End clobber, confident ordering.

Next to us, Mummy and Simmy, our very own TV in a pub, from whom we could barely drag our attention (well, we’ve been married 20 years; we don’t need to talk, not when we can eavesdrop).

Private school mother and poor, track-suited offspring. Mummy was a bore, a crashing bore who did not stop talking, she simply did not draw breath.
“So, I’m thinking, Boden for Cornwall and for Spain my little Superdry dress.” Here she patted shoulders, chest and lap like an airhostess establishing the exits, “with my boxy jacket over, and as for Portugal, I’m thinking Billabong so … oh, look! Darling! Marvellous! Do look: Green Beans. Oh yum. Yum. Yum. Yum. Lots and lots, I think.”

The nasty waitress, summoned by such enthusiastic braying ripping the air slid close, her pen poised reluctantly.

“Darling? Duck? Duck for Simmy, and I’ll have just a steak. Rare, medium rare. And green beans. Green beans for Simmy, too. And a salad for me. And some broccoli. And pommes purees for Simmy. We’re on a diet.”

“Fuck me, that’s fifteen quid on green stuff,” I hissed at Edward.

It was the sort of place where your eyes watered at the prices, and then, when you were down and weakened, they stung you a further £3 a bowl for anything extra, for the stuff which used just to come with your meal, which used to be your meal.

The Olds guffawed over an ancient joke, and we opted to share a salad. “That’ll be plenty,” the nasty waitress said flicking a glance at Mummy. We asked what something in a pot on our table was. She let an insulting silence lengthen before saying with studied insolence, “Celeriac remoulade.” As any fule no.

Mummy and Simmy’s food turned up. The tiny table was bulging with bowls bearing a surfeit of greenery. “Dripping with butter those beans,” E said. We laughed and chomped on our faux gras, ekeing out tiny squares of toast.

Mummy was a-flush with excitement at having headed off the chips at the pass. What a nasty turn. Di-sas-ter averted! She had spied them heading her way and barked “NO!” Hand held high like a traffic policeman. “No, not chips,” she might even have said “frites,” Oh God, I think she did, I’d blanked it out of self-protection. The horror, the horror. “I’m on a diet!” She also proclaimed, “We’re running to a tight schedule,” which was Mummy-speak for ‘Gotta boot the kid back to school by nine.’

Simmy didn’t get to talk much. On occasion, she was handed the iPhone and told to tell Daddy about the 81% in chemistry, darling. Daddy was clearly busy because the chat didn’t last beyond basic imparting of brief info. Simmy also had to check with Natty about Wimbledon. Because if Natty wasn’t going to go they really ought (orrrrt) to get onto MelMel about it.

Simmy had, however, made clear from the off (orf) that she fancied a pud. Mmmm, chocolate. And, as so much of her duck made its way onto Mummy’s plate (an impatient fork tipping breasts and legs, grease dripping from every shard), Simmy was clearly still hungry but when the nasty waitress sidled over and said, threateningly, “Pudding?” Simmy’s eyes might well have lit up but Mummy’s mouth it was which opened first, “No, no, I think not. We’re on diets!” This word caused her to emit small explosive noises, perhaps it hurt? “Yes, ha ha. And a tight schedule. Just some water. I’m thinking few bubbles, I’m thinking Badoit? And the bill. Darling, does Daddy know about the change in plan for Saturday? I think you should phone him.”

We saw them off: Mummy tottering, Simmy slouching, while a sublime chocolate pudding headed our way. Yum.

Mummy crashed the gears on the 4x4 parked outside, and when I say parked, I mean slung at an angle vaguely proximate to the kerb. Still yakking. Scant attention paid to little things like other people.

Mrs Lovely’s parents had bought a big car. “Whatever for?!” she’d shrieked, mindful of the inheritance slipping into a most un-ness Land Cruiser. “Whaddya want a 7 seater for! You’re not taking the girls. You’re 80! Well ... you can take Lulu. Wake her up a bit.”

“It’s for the widows,” Mrs Lovely’s Dad had said. “They need a lift to all the funerals.”

We were gathered in the field this morning, while the dogs romped disgustingly. If Muffin knew how very unbutch he looked with his pompom tail, he wouldn’t swagger like Errol Flynn, he’d sit in the corner and crochet.

Rural Ted perked up, he’s threatened with redundancy. He’s always threatened with redundancy. It gives him a gloomy air. “Put the seats down and your Dad could take the coffin,” he suggested. “Widders could go boi cab. Your dad could make a few quid.”

I’m thinking enterprise, I’m thinking opportunities. Oh yum. Marvellous.