Wednesday 30 January 2008

The downside of indiscretion

No idea; 6.5 units of alcohol (it was that sort of concert); 1,466; Tyne.

I’m seriously disappointed to report that my train back to Newcastle this morning departed and arrived on time, and that an attentive trolley service made frequent calls at my reserved seat. There was a well-advertised restaurant car if I’d wanted one, and the lavatory didn’t resemble one in a Third World shanty town during a dysentery epidemic. Damn. I’d been so looking forward to working myself up into a lather of indignation.

Searching through the inbox of my laptop in an attempt to track down the address of someone I met at the concert last night, I chanced upon an e-mail I’d received from my then secretary in 2002. It contained a joke I’d completely forgotten about, of the sort which women are supposed to find extremely offensive. So naturally it made me laugh immoderately. I only wish I felt that I could paste it into this entry.

It also made me think about the young lady in question, for the first time in many years. Rosie, as we shall call her, was a very pretty 31-year-old with a shock of curly blonde hair. She’d recently split up with her boyfriend and seemed to derive some temporary comfort from going out with older Blokes. It would have been positively rude not to chuck her the occasional invitation, so one evening I took her to a rather grand black tie dinner in one of the City livery halls. She certainly looked the part, after preparations which had included absenting herself from work for an hour or so in the afternoon for something described as “waxing”.

It was my fault for introducing the subject, but I’d recently read an article in the Daily Telegraph, of all places, about the growing fashion for things Brazilian, and it seemed as though the womenfolk of Britain were countering the rather repulsive trend for men to shave their heads by cultivating a similar baldness down below.

“Oh no,” said Rosie. “Just my legs. I think pubes are sexy, don’t you?”

And to help me make my mind up on that point, she raised her short skirt and pulled down her knickers so that I could take a look. More curly blonde hair, though the word “shock” in this case would be more accurately applied to the look on my face than to her front bottom. Luckily we had nipped outside into a courtyard so that she could smoke a fag, so I don’t think any of the assembled dignitaries witnessed this little incident, though it certainly cheered up the male caterer who happened to be passing at the time. He didn’t drop his tray of canapés, though. Those guys are true professionals.

It would be true to say that I regarded the prospects for the evening as looking highly promising from that point on.

Some hours later, we were in my flat, and Rosie was doing her best to demolish a bottle of whisky, on top of a considerable quantity of wine. She knocked back her glass in a decisive way and slurred that she was going to treat me to an experience of oral sexual pleasure such as I would never forget.

At this point, something very strange happened. I came over all responsible. I thought: here we have an emotionally vulnerable young woman who has drunk far more than is good for her. You are older, more (but not particularly) sober, and you are her employer. You owe her a duty of care. Added to which, how will it play in front of an industrial tribunal if she decides that you have taken advantage of her? Or a court, come to that?

I thanked her for her kind offer, explained why I thought it inappropriate, ordered her a taxi and sent her home.

Of course I was secretly hoping that she’d appreciate my immensely chivalrous behaviour and renew the offer at a time when she was considerably more sober. Instead she went right off me.

I racked my brains as to why that should have happened, and eventually concluded that it might have had something to do with the “send to all” e-mail I circulated around the office as soon as I got in the next morning, providing a full and graphic account of the above events. We all had a good chuckle and Rosie wasn’t actually there to witness it, being at home in bed with a Class A hangover. Still, I imagine that word got round.

There is probably an important lesson in this for a blogger, if only I could put my finger on it. Which, come to think of it, is exactly what I should have done back in 2002.

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