10 Signs You’re Nearly 30

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  1. You’re 29.
  2. You go on a date with a guy you met in a club. He’s 25 and, when you reveal your age, he says, ‘Well done.’
  3. You start wondering about felt tip pen as a viable, affordable fix for prominent grey hairs.
  4. You decide it’s now or never with giving the dream career a shot. Hell, there has to be an upside to not having a joint mortgage!
  5. You go to parties and are the token single person there, fielding questions like, ‘What do you think of Tinder?
  6. So you embrace it, cast aside your inner Charlotte, and sleep around.
  7. When that doesn’t prove to be fun (bad sex and, oh, bad sex), you go back to focusing on that dream career.
  8. Which proves to be a nightmare, so you get to wondering if children are really that bad.
  9. And decide they are.
  10. Maybe New Zealand is calling. There’s Tinder in New Zealand, right?

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Brilliant Cut

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There are too many brilliant moments.CC Image courtesy of 427 on Flickr

Like when we’re caught making out on the fire escape of the club.

Joined on a bench at three in the morning, by a homeless guy with a gammy leg.

Advised by a policeman not to leave our stuff, which consists of two bags of crisps and a clutch bag, on the wall – against which we’re making out (you might spot a theme here).

VP suggesting we find a side street in which to make out, before salt and vinegar and sweet chilli and sour cream call a halt to the whole jolly business.  Which they don’t.

The moment when the bus rolls away, I look to my left, and our eyes meet.

 

‘Home OK?’

‘Not far off!’

I don’t tell him I’m walking the last forty minutes.  Not walking – dancing.

Falling asleep to the sound of birdsong.

Daydreaming in the park the next day, feeling my face grow hot in the sun, remembering what he said about my pale complexion.

His name appearing on the screen of my phone as I prepare dinner.

CC Image courtesy of johnnytakespictures on Flickr

 

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The Time Of My Life

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Freddie sticks his head round the door.CC Image courtesy of jonathan229 on Flickr

‘We’re dancing the next one.’

‘I love that you’re telling me!’ I say, laughing. ‘That I don’t have any say in the matter!’

‘Oh, I’m sorry.’  He’s not, not really.  And I do love it, really.  ‘Do you already have a partner?’

‘No.’

‘Would you like to dance it?’

‘Yes, thank you.’

He laughs.  ‘That was really silly!’

 

The music comes on.  He takes my hand, though I try to extricate my fingers, and leads me onto the floor.  As we dance, I find myself thinking, wishing, if only this was it.  If only life, a relationship, a date, was just a dance.  We work when we dance.

 

It takes me back to a night in early summer.  Dinner and dancing, literally, between the tables.  Then a club, grimy and stark.  I walk in and who should I see but Milonga, leaning against the back wall, flirting with a nondescript brunette.

Freddie and I make for the dance floor, shuffling with the others at first.  Out of the corner of my eye, I can see Milonga and the brunette.  Eventually I crack.

‘There’s someone here I had a brief thing with,’ I say, ‘and – well – he’s here with someone else.’

Freddie looks surprisingly sympathetic.  ‘Who is he?’

‘Oh it doesn’t matter, but, well – I need to look good!’

He spins me.

‘You do.’

 

At the bar, we encounter Milonga, alone.  Freddie, oblivious, greets him.

‘You look great,’ Milonga says, kissing me on the cheeks.

‘Thanks,’ I mutter.

A new track comes on.  I tug on Freddie’s arm.  ‘I love this song.’

He doesn’t get the hint; he never does.  I try a more direct approach.

‘Can we dance?’

Freddie excuses us and leads the way onto the floor.  For the next half hour we dance like I’ve never danced before, a whirl of spins and drops.  Onlookers applaud.  I forget Milonga. I forget everything, lost in the dance.

*

‘You look incredible together!’ Beatrice says, when I come off the floor.

‘I know,’ I say, without thinking.  I look back at Freddie, all smiles, telling another girl her fate for the next.

CC Image courtesy of Xanda on Flickr



Foreign Climes

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CC Image courtesy of meli66a on FlickrWhat with the red face paint, it’s hard to be certain, but I’m pretty sure the devil at the door is Nice Guy’s flatmate.  He was also at the club, in Clapham

 

‘So… that’s your flatmate?’ I say, nodding towards a tall, athletic guy.

‘Yes – Dan.’  Nice Guy smiles.  ‘But hands off.’

‘Oh I – I’m not–.’

But I understand.  With his broad smile, pleasant manner and muscular physique, Dan must have an easy time of it, attracting women.  Nice Guy is slight by comparison, and a little awkward.

 

I fancy Dan looks a bit uncomfortable on seeing me.

‘Hello,’ he says.

‘Hi!’

A couple wearing Hawaiian shirts and flower garlands are loitering in the hall.

‘The theme is – is Halloween, right?’ I say.

Hawaiian guy looks over.  ‘Yeah, you’re fine.  I know, we’re not very scary.’

I laugh.  ‘Just checking!’

Dan is looking thoughtful.

‘I – I think we’ve met before?’ I say.

‘Y–es.  You were with Andy – in the club, in Clapham?’

‘Yep.’

‘I’m Dan.’

We shake hands.  ‘Nice to see you again.’

‘What was the name of the club?’

I laugh.  ‘No idea!’

 

I follow him through to the living room.

‘So, who do you know here?’ he says.

Well, aside from Andy…

I scan the room, in search of a familiar face.  ‘Err well anyone he was at uni with maybe?  From the same college, at Oxford?’

Dan gestures towards a blond girl dressed as an M&M.  ‘Ellie was at Merton.’

Don’t know Ellie.  And Andy wasn’t at Merton.

‘Hmm I don’t think so…’

‘Frankie?  She was St. Hugh’s.’

‘Erm…’

‘Let me get you a drink – and then I’ll introduce you to some people.  What would you like?  You can have whatever you want.’

‘Err… wine?  White wine.  Thanks.’

I get chatting to a guy and girl standing nearby.  They misunderstood the event description and came as a pun on Pussy Riot.  A board proclaiming ‘Down with Minge’ is propped up against the window.  They’re friends of Dan’s.

‘Who do you know here?’ the guy says.

‘Um… Andy?’ I say.  ‘I can’t see him though…’

Not that I’m looking; not that I’ve shaved parts of my body I didn’t know existed, draped myself with bin-liner, and navigated foreign sections of the London transport system, just to see him.

The guy frowns.  ‘Andy?  Oh, the other flatmate.  Yeah, he’s not here.’

‘Scuse me?

‘Where is he?!’ I say.

‘Benidorm.’

‘Benidorm?!’

‘Yeah, playing cricket.’

I don’t care if he’s saving whales, what the fuck is he doing in Benidorm?!

(TO BE CONTINUED)

CC Image courtesy of comunitatvalenciana on Flickr



Slow Motion

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(Continued from Take Three)

The others reappear.  I’m introduced.  We start dancing.  Nice Guy and I migrate towards the windows, where it’s less crowded.  He tries to speak over the music.

I rest my hand on his shoulder.  ‘What did you say?’

He leans in, repeats the sentence.  I laugh.  His hand is at my waist.  We keep dancing, but slower than before: slower, and closer.  He teases me.  I laugh again, give him a gentle swat.  My hand drops to his back.  For a moment, we’re cheek to cheek.  Our eyes meet, then our lips. 

CC image courtesy of www.ericcastro.biz on flickr

(TO BE CONTINUED)