The Sound of Silence

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CC Image courtesy of H.J.Righolt on Flickr‘How was your wedding? Not your wedding…’

I laugh. ‘No. Yeah it was fine.’

I try to think of something funny or interesting that happened, besides slicing my legs open with a men’s razor in my haste to get ready, calling for a very attractive patchwork of plasters.

‘How was the party?’ I wind up.

 

I’d missed Tristan‘s house party for the wedding – a couple I knew from university. For the first two years of our degree he had a long-term girlfriend and she we pined. For the third year, they dated and, on graduating, moved in together. She looked radiant with happiness standing opposite him at the altar.

 

‘It was good,’ Tristan says. I get the feeling he’s also struggling for material.

There’s a pause as we apply ourselves to our lunch.

‘So did you meet anyone?’ he says.

I frown. ‘You mean…?’

‘Did you meet the love of your life?’

I laugh. ‘Well I only had about four men to choose from! There was one guy – he had his own mobile home – but he wasn’t the most interesting company. Actually the bride messaged me today saying ‘I hear there was some excitement’ and offering to help, which was very sweet given she’s on honeymoon. But anyway, she misread the situation…’

So much for confining myself to the funny or interesting.

What the bride had actually said was ‘I hear there might be something for the blog’, but Tristan doesn’t need to know this. He’s not listening anyway; at ‘mobile home’ he’d started to laugh.

‘Was he wearing a wife-beater?’ he says. ‘And did he have long sideburns?’

‘No,’ I say, also laughing. ‘He was quite good-looking, but that’s pretty much all he had going for him.’

I could go on, tell him how the groom had come over to us and said with a meaningful look in Mobile Home’s direction, ‘I don’t think Anna needs to worry about accommodation tonight.’

How, faced with the story of my taxi crisis, Mobile Home had offered me a cup of tea in his van (he preferred to call it ‘The Van’).

How I declined in favour of a good night’s sleep, went home to my own mobile home and cried for I don’t know what.

There’s another pause.

‘Tell me more about the party,’ I say.

CC Image courtesy of Nic Taylor Photography on Flickr

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Memories

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CC Image courtesy of kcr@in on FlickrThe most precious – and arguably the most delusional – thing VP ever said to me was over dinner in a restaurant just off Trafalgar Square. It was our third date. He was asking me about my job and I was being vague, unwilling to reveal the mindlessness of my day-to-day employment to this dazzling Renaissance man. And that’s when he said it.

‘I imagine you’re well-liked at work.’

I resisted the urge to pull a face. ‘Er… I hope so.’

 

I went to a wedding the other day. In her speech the bride said of her husband, ‘He makes me be the best version of myself’.

 

Now, when I’m having a really shitty day at work and a colleague comes over to ask me a perfectly reasonable question and I want to snap and scowl, I remember VP’s words.

 

After dinner we crossed the river, walked west and sat on a bench kissing and sharing stories in the shadow of Big Ben.

 

I’ll never forget the nights we spent together but I’ll treasure more what he said to me as we sat across from one another, my hand in his, fingers interlacing.

CC Image courtesy of Sangre-La.com on Flickr

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Worlds Apart

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CC Image courtesy of liyinglace on Flickr

I roll over, reach for my phone. A missed call and two messages. One of them I’ve already read – a grammatical car crash from the guy who, ten hours’ earlier, I was lip to lip with.

 

‘Culturally it’s very different, right?’

This is me trying to sound intelligent about China.

‘Yes,’ he says. ‘And they spit, when they talk.’

‘They spit?!’

‘Yes.’

Which is when he goes in for the kiss. Just the right amount of spit, in case you wanted to know.

 

So there’s him asking, ‘How was [the] rest or your night?’. And then there’s Rachel

‘I’ve got a bit of a disaster…’

It might be the first time L.K.Bennett – queen of sartorial conservatism – and ‘disaster’ have found themselves in the same sentence. Newly engaged Rachel has found a bridesmaid dress she likes and wants to know what I think. Another message, this time a picture of the sender, fresh-faced and perky, modeling an elegant lace number. I lie there, eyeliner streaked across my face, scarf wrapped around my head to muffle the midday sounds of suburban London, feeling our worlds edge that little bit further apart.

CC Image courtesy of Ben Fredericson (xjrlokix) on Flickr

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Wedding Night

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CC Image courtesy of RMH40 on FlickrI look at the screen and frown. It’s late, I’m still recovering from drinking my body weight in wine and the prospect of reading an industry report on processed cheese isn’t all that appealing.

*

One of the bridesmaids points him out to me as the only straight, single man there. I look him over, the guy from Dubai, and decide I’m not in the mood for rejection.

Then dinner happens. Pierre to my left is a familiar face from university. He’s charming, French and so not interested. At one point I look over at Catherine.

‘Anything?’ I mouth, nodding in Pierre’s direction.

‘No.’

‘No?’

She could at least pretend.

‘No Anna.’

CC Image courtesy of N@ncyN@nce on Flickr

Catherine and I head in the direction of the bar with a view to asking about taxis.

‘Or,’ I say, putting a hand on her arm, ‘I could try talking to the guy from Dubai?’

‘No Anna.’

‘Why not?!’

‘Because….’ She sighs. ‘Will it make you happy?’

‘Probably not.’

 

‘Oh! Thank you!’ I take one of the G&Ts winging its way to the table via Dubai. ‘You’re Erik, right?’

He confirms his name, asks mine.

‘I’ll rise,’ I say, getting up, ‘in the words of Maya Angelou.’

It’s not my first gin of the night.

‘What?’

‘Oh nothing.’

You’re tall,’ he says.

‘So are you.’

We talk. I discover he loves oysters, Futurist sculpture and Egon Schiele and that he works for his family’s processed cheese business. By the time we’re dancing Viennese waltz in the driveway I’m pretty much a lost woman.

CC Image courtesy of flickr-rickr on Flickr

Catherine comes over. ‘Our taxi’s here.’

I rise from the hay bale, say my goodbyes to Pierre and the other guests. Finally I come to Erik.

‘It was nice to meet you.’

‘You’re leaving?’

We walk a little way from the bonfire.

‘Goodbye.’

‘Goodbye.’

His lips touch mine.

 

‘Why didn’t I stay?!’ I say to the ceiling.

Catherine in the neighbouring bed laughs. This has been my reprise pretty much since we left the bonfire.

 

A week later I’m showing Erik’s LinkedIn photo to close friends with an entirely unfounded sense of pride and ownership. I’ve added him on Facebook, which he doesn’t appear to use, and have heard nothing. I haven’t read the processed cheese report.

 

I decide to shelve all further explorations until the happy couple return from honeymoon and are ready to be reminded that they have friends who are still single and sufficiently unhinged to believe that a distance of 3000 miles is no obstacle to a relationship.

CC Image courtesy of Kurush Pawar - DXB on Flickr

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Lady Grey

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‘Charcoal and tomato red.’CC Image courtesy of Cea on Flickr  My mother holds the swatches up to my face.

I study my reflection in the mirror.

‘I like.’

What’s not to?

My mother nods.

‘It’s a great combination.’

‘Winter then?’ I say.

‘No question.’

‘So black is OK?’

‘Yup.’

‘And – and grey?’

We laugh.  It’s a running joke between my Mum and I, my obsession with all things grey.  The long winter evenings just fly by.

‘Yes, we said charcoal’s good – with contrast.’

‘And what about white?’ I say.

‘Not ivory.’

‘Oooh problem for the wedding dress.’

‘You can wear white.’

She has a point.

‘Or….’  I start laughing.

‘Not grey!’

 CC Image courtesy of libertygrace0