I am (gently) shaken awake at London Bridge. I’m totally disorientated. And I think I’ve been dribbling. It takes a minute or so to remember where I am.
Apparently the train is being terminated here because of a ‘technical fault’. I stumble off and squint at the board. The next train has been cancelled. I now have a fifty minute wait.
I am hung-over. I still have a painful lump on my forehead. I slept in these clothes. I am wearing what is left of yesterday’s make up. My hair is a mess. Everything is a little blurred without my contacts. I feel dizzy.
All I want to do is go home. Not hang around here freezing my arse off. I am (unsurprisingly) in a really foul mood.
I march up to a railway employee and ask him why my train has been cancelled. He gives me a funny look (I clearly look like the morning after the night before). I roll my eyes and impatiently repeat the question. He shrugs, says “I don’t know” and tries to walk away.
I’m not having that. I pull at his arm and tell him that he is being very rude. And that it is his job to know.
He tries to speak but I won’t let him. I keep a firm grip of his arm in case he attempts to walk away again. I am determined to have my say. Fares go up every year yet the service gets worse. Commuters are effectively held to ransom.
People are milling around and nodding in agreement with me. I like an audience. I get into my stride, delivering an impromptu yet eloquent speech highlighting the deficiencies of our railway system.
Then I let go of his arm and say “Right. I’m finished. You may speak now. What have you got to say?” He smiles, points to a (very small) royal mail emblem on his jacket and says “I’m a postman”. Oh. “Yes, well.......your uniforms are too bloody similar” is the best I can manage before I hastily walk off to (quietly) wait for my train.
I get home, have a bath and wait for the pizza to arrive. I need comfort food. The doorbell rings. I open the door. It’s Anthony. I am wearing big fluffy dog slippers (present from my daughter, Mia). Unflattering striped boxers (that he had left behind two years ago). And a hideous but cosy fluffy leopard print top (present from the parents).
I close the door. Kick the slippers off and rush around like a whirling dervish. Get changed. Put make up on. Smooth hair down.
I open the door again. It suddenly occurs to me that he may not be there. But he is. He says he preferred my ‘eclectic’ look. And that his boxers suit me. He knows I kept them. And that I still wear them. How embarrassing.
He asks me why I left without saying goodbye. I offer him tea. I have to busy myself doing something. I don’t want to have this conversation. Not yet. Not now. I haven’t had time to think.
I need to intellectualise, rationalise and analyse. I can’t just have an ad hoc conversation led by emotion. That would be a disaster.
Thankfully my phone rings. I answer it immediately. It’s my neighbour, Alison. She sounds upset. And she is in urgent need of legal advice (I was a lawyer in a previous life). Perfect. I excuse myself and go next door.
Alison is a devout born again Christian who has abstained from alcohol for twenty years. She is on her second bottle of wine when I arrive. And seemingly intent on revealing every intimate detail of her unhappy marriage to me. Details I would really rather not be privy to.
I interrupt her with a reminder about needing legal advice. She says she wants a divorce. Not really my area (at least not professionally). I write down the name of a firm that specialises in family law. She thanks me. Then lifts her top up and tearfully asks “Do you think I have nice breasts?” This is getting a little too weird for me.
I have to make a quick call on which is the lesser of two evils; going back and having an unscripted conversation with Anthony or staying here and witnessing her descent into alcohol induced hysteria. All twenty pent up years of it. Not to mention the possibility of more random nudity. Decision made. I assure her that they are lovely as I am backing out of the door.
I go back to Anthony, gently kiss him, whisper “I’m sober now, make love to me” and lead him towards the bedroom. He doesn’t protest. Genius. I not only avoid talking, I get to have great sex. But there is one fundamental flaw in my brilliant plan. I still have hairy legs. And a knicker beard.
I tell him I need to ‘de-fuzz’ first. He laughs, “I love you, you mad Turk” then he scoops me up in his big manly arms and his tone becomes serious “I have waited a long time to be with you again and I’m not waiting a second longer”.
We kiss as he carries me into the bedroom. I am swept away by the romance of it all. I swear I can hear music playing in the distance.
Then he trips over one of my hastily discarded doggy slippers and we land in an unruly heap on the bed. We look at each other before bursting into simultaneous laughter. And that one moment confirms it for me. I do still love him.