The wedding was a long day and by the time the party kicked off in the evening, we were all flagging. There was a table at the back with four free chairs next to a pudgy woman in a cardy. My friend’s pregnant girlfriend went to sit down in one of the seats.
‘Those chairs are taken. All of them,’ the woman said.
I watched the table for an hour. The chairs stayed empty.
At the end of the night I saw the woman again. She was on a different table by the dancefloor, four empty seats next to her.
It was dark, cold, January night. Coming towards me from the gloom, I saw a strange figure. Its black legs were long and distorted, tapering down to a point and wobbling under the weight of an enormous mane of blond hair. As the figure got closer, I saw that the legs were artificially elongated by stilettos and hot-pants; the hair back-combed with so much spray that even the drizzle couldn’t flatten it.
It’s a reflection of my age that my first reaction at seeing this attractive young woman wasn’t: ‘Christ, look at that,’ it was: ‘Christ, I bet she’s cold’.
Buying cigarettes, I was served by one of those huge women with 40-Benson-a-day voices – the kind that are likely to call you love in an over-friendly way. I asked her for a lighter, she asked me what colour and I said I didn’t mind.
‘This one’s black, is that ok?’
I feel as though these types of women always expect you to quip back with something but I was over-tired and off-guard so my reserve of witty/shit comments was empty. The first thing that occurred to me to say was: ‘Black’s fine, It’ll match my soul.’
She didn’t laugh.