Happy Birthday

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CC Image courtesy of aturkus on FlickrI turn to see Tristan standing behind me.  He’s wearing forest green, which is a mistake.

‘I didn’t know it was your birthday.’

‘Oh!’  I can’t help grinning. ‘Yes, well, on Sunday.  How did you know?!’

Facebook, it has to be.

For the rest of the day, everywhere I go, around the office, people are wishing me a Happy Birthday.  There’s a photo shoot for staff.  The lady walking me to the studio asks about my weekend plans.

‘Well, it’s my birthday…’

‘Of course!’

I grin.

*

The photographer points towards a small round table in the centre of the room.

‘You’ll be sitting on the stool.’

It’s a very big stool, I think to myself.  When she’s ready, I walk over, and perch on the edge of it.  She laughs.

‘It’s funny, a few people have done that!’

I turn and see the stool behind the table, and laugh.  ‘Ah OK.’

‘So,’ she says, clicking away, ‘it’s your birthday this weekend?’

Huh?  We’re not Facebook friends.

‘Have you got any plans?’

I tell her about the dinner party.  Little do I know that this is the happiest my birthday will get.

‘I love your colours,’ she says.

‘Thanks!’

I’ve donned teal for the occasion.  It occurs to me that forest green might have been a deliberate choice on Tristan’s part.

‘Shall we try a serious one?’

We try.

‘No, you’re a smiler.’

I laugh.

*

The photographer passes my desk on the way out.

‘Have a great weekend, and Happy Birthday!’ she says.

‘Thanks!’

Little do I know…

CC Image courtesy of ebatty on Flickr

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Moments In Time

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7007064730_e46bcdc352Sunday, I went to Greenwich, wandered around the market.  In the crowd I felt lonely and reached out for a familiar voice, called an old friend I’d last seen in that exact spot.  She didn’t pick up, or rather the number wasn’t recognised.

It’s one of those cold sunny days.  I wander down to the river, sit on a bench and read.  Chilled by the wind I retreat to a cafe.  The reviews have piqued my curiosity: ‘delicious coffee‘ and ‘charming staff’.

There’s only one seat free – literally a chair, near the till.  The waiter grins in greeting.  ‘Hello!’

He’s wearing linen trousers, a beautiful embroidered jacket in earthy, exotic tones, and on his head a chocolate brown fedora.  I return his smile and take the offered seat, open my book.  A table comes free; I move my things, pull out a notebook.

‘Are you writing?’ the man in the hat says in passing.

‘Yes!’

‘Ah, I thought you were – I saw you on your phone and wondered if that’s what you were doing!’

I glance at the abandoned notebook and laugh.  ‘Yes, I seem to write more and more on here now!’

‘I wrote two plays on my phone!’ he says, also laughing.

‘Do you have anything online, a blog?’

‘No but…’

He’s needed at the counter.

‘… I’ll give you something, before you leave.’

His tone is conspiratorial.  I grin.  ‘OK!’

*

I pull on my wrist-warmers, check the contents of my bag, twice.  He looks over.  A queue of customers fills the shop.  I tear a scrap of paper off my notepad, write out the link to the blog.  He pauses en route to a table.

‘You’re leaving?’

‘Yes, but,’ I hold the paper out, ‘this is me!’

MBE to be precise.

He takes it.  ‘Thank you!’

‘Nice to meet you!’

‘You too!’

I step out onto the pavement.  The sun is warm upon my face.  Smiling, I bend my steps in the direction of the station.

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Like-For-Like

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CC Image courtesy of afroboof on FlickrJust the other day, I was thinking about Othello, about what an ass he is to believe the things that Iago tells him. Whilst being aware that I’ve believed things based on much flimsier evidence… make that no evidence.  The power of suggestion: it’s a dangerous thing.

This comes back to me during a discussion a colleague and I are having, about potential suitors.

‘What about…?’ She mouths a name.

‘Sorry?’

She leans forward.  ‘What about Tristan?’

‘Oh.’  I grin stupidly, and shake my head.  ‘Yeah, I really like him, but…’

‘Does he have a girlfriend?’

‘I think so.’

I present the evidence.  ‘What made you suggest him?’

‘Oh…. you just seem really similar.’

‘In what way?’

‘Well, you’re both lovely, and you seem to get on and, I dunno, you just seem really alike.’

‘Yeah… and – I do really like him, but yeah, I’m pretty sure there’s a girlfriend.’

*

The next day, Colleague and I are discussing holidays.

‘You need to book one,’ she says.  ‘Do you like beaches?’

‘Ye-ah… yes, but…’

‘You prefer cold weather.’

I think for a moment.  ‘If I went on holiday, I’d probably go walking in Scotland.’

‘Hmm.’  There’s a pause.  ‘That’s what Tristan did.’

I give her a look.  ‘Oh?’

CC Image courtesy of PhillipC on Flickr

Otherwise known as, tell me more.

‘Yeah, last year.  I’m pretty sure it was Scotland.’

‘Oh, right. Well…’

I hear a step behind me and turn to see Tristan.

‘Hello!  Wow,’ he says, looking round, ‘you’re all here!’

‘Yes,’ I say, ‘you’re spoilt.’

He laughs.  ‘But it’s you,’ he looks at me, ‘who’s the one…’

‘I feel the same way!’

Joke – I would never say that.  Rather, I turn a fetching shade of fuchsia, and look down at my keyboard, avoiding Colleague’s eye.  There are shades of Matthew about the scene.

He goes on, ‘… the one who has to deal with the American office.’

I look up.  ‘Yes.’

He needs to check something on my computer screen, which is lucky because it means I don’t have to look at him.  It’s also lucky I’m not wearing red or there’d be a grave danger of my face starting to merge with my top.

This is ridiculous.  For three months, I’ve worked with this guy and acted completely normal.  Now, because of a colleague’s passing remark, I’ve lost the ability to speak to him without turning God-knows-what colour.

We joke about the onscreen corrections.  Thankfully what I’m saying makes sense – no small miracle – but he must think I’m having a hot flash.  I think I’m having a hot flash.  I can feel sweat on my upper lip.

Eventually he leaves.  I email Colleague.

‘This is all your fault!  I went beetroot!

I hear a snort from the other side of my monitor.  Her reply comes back,

‘At least it matches your top.’

Which is dark purple in colour.  It’s worse than I thought.

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In Sickness…

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CC Image courtesy of Leticia L on Flickr

Ill.  That must have been it.  I hadn’t been on Tinder in ages, had written it off, but then the lurgy hit.  I’d already watched everything on iPlayer, twice, so there was nothing for it.  Death by boredom or… Tinder.

No, no, no, no, no….

Turns out the two options aren’t so different.

…no, no, no….

Lunch at 4pm.

… no… no…

Immediately followed by tea because it’s teatime.

The no’s keep coming, X Factor-style.

Over supper, three hours later (I don’t know how I did it), I get a message from Daniel.  Daniel?  Daniel?  It vaguely rings a bell, not least because I’ve only matched with three people in as many hours.

I open the message.

The first thing I notice is that he hasn’t said hello, asked how I am (ill) or what I’m doing (Tinder, cos I’m ill).  One gold star to him.  (I’ve just watched Notes on a Scandal, though just the once – it’s hardly feel-good.)  Secondly, it’s kind of funny, his message.  No, actually it is funny.  And original.  And the punctuation is… oh for crying out loud.

A short while later, I reply, and a few minutes after that I get another message.  He must be ill too.

This one is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny.  In a collapse on the sofa and not because you’re ill kind-of-a-way.  Banter ensues.  What does he look like?  Oh, nice-looking.  The suit in the second picture, I would burn, but other than that… oh and the t-shirt in the fourth photo.

We discuss housework.  It turns out we both hate ironing, washing up, cleaning… glossing over the fact that, when we move in together, the house will basically be a pigsty, he’s quite fun.  And he even displays a disconcerting level of interest when he follows up the next day with a cleverly re-worded ‘so, what do you do?’

I – and this might be a terrible idea – tell him.  Oh don’t worry, I don’t mention the blog, but I’ve decided there’s no point denying I’m a writer.  I mean, sooner or later they’re going to find out that a good weekend for me is one spent, well, typing.  And since I’m quite up for dating a fellow writer (an in-house editor, just imagine!), it can’t hurt to lay my cards on the table.  Can it?

CC Image courtesy of Olivander on Flickr



Out Of The Frying Pan…

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CC Image courtesy of DG Jones on Flickr‘Newsflash!’ I tell Perky, suddenly perky myself.

‘What is it?’

‘Actually… you might not have read this bit of the blog.  Do you know who I mean by Nice Guy?’

‘I think so.  I’ll have another read.  Send me the link?’

In the three minutes or so that it takes for her to get up to date, I run the gamut of possible explanations.  From the Occam’s razor, that Nice Guy sent a blanket invite to his London acquaintances of which I happen to be one; to my personal favourite, that after a summer of fun he is now ready for a serious relationship with yours truly, hence his inviting me to a house party.

‘Go, go, go,’ Perky sends back, when I tell her my reservations.  ‘Stop being a silly pumpkin!’

That’s a thought, except orange really isn’t my colour.

I text Beatrice, entreating her to tell me it’s just a casual invite.  Then I stalk Nice Guy to death, all the while hating myself for letting him get under my skin – again.  An hour later I call it a night.

 

The event crops up from time to time on my home page.  I put off making a decision.  There’s no decision to be made of course.  Curiosity will get the better of me, and I will cross London dressed as a bat/witch/cat in the vain hope that Perky is right; that my brother, mother, and flatmate are wrong; and that Occam doesn’t know shit.

CC Image courtesy of L. Marie on Flickr