Friday 23 May 2008

The descending curtain of loneliness

My ignorance of my weight remains as invincible as my resistance to queueing; 9.5 units of alcohol yesterday, so far as I can see; 1,351; Crewe, capital of joy and sorrow.

The day started very well indeed, and for once for reasons that can be related in this blog: the Tory triumph in the Crewe and Nantwich by-election. It put me in a good mood until the horrible moment in the afternoon when I had to see the LTCB onto a train, appropriately enough, to Crewe. In the meantime I took her to my optician’s (never let it be said that I don’t know how to spoil a girl), having concluded that it would save grief and expense in the long run if I consulted my taste and design guru before lashing out on a new pair of glasses. She immediately approved the frames I had chosen in the first place, which were just about the most expensive in the shop. After accepting a bargain offer to replace the lenses in my old frames with ones to my new prescription, I somehow ended up owing them a suspiciously round £800. We then walked across the road to the shop once known as Beatties, now Model Zone, where the LTCB bought one of those tiny pots of Humbrol black enamel that I have not owned since I stopped building Airfix kits some 40 years ago. This was so that I could touch up the frames of her own glasses when I had a moment to spare. With a tiny paintbrush to apply it, her total outlay came to £1.45. I could not help thinking that this made an instructive contrast.

Wandering aimlessly on, I made the interesting (to me) discovery that shops selling secondhand tat from house clearances now describe their wares as “vintage dresses”. I shall remember that one. We then made a close inspection of a shop specializing in toy theatres before somehow ending up on a balcony above a Covent Garden pasty shop, drinking Cornish real ale and watching one of the world’s less talented escapologists perform in the piazza below. The LTCB was exchanging texts with a friend she hoped might be able to meet us for lunch, and I was moved to wonder why everyone else in her mobile’s address book apart from me appeared to be known by a cheery nickname. She agreed that I had a point, adding that “Curmudgeon” would also have the benefit of moving me several places up the alphabet. I decided not to press it.

We grabbed a quick salad for an early lunch then I took her in a taxi to Euston for the 14.17 train, feeling very sad and vaguely wondering which particular railway rule seemed to require every train on this route to arrive or leave at 17 minutes past the hour, leaving the other 59 minutes distinctly under-employed. As I walked back down the platform, I felt the same sense of loss as a bloke who has just mislaid a winning lottery ticket. Which is odd, as similar parting scenes with previous girlfriends have nearly always been the occasion for unrestrained glee, probably on both sides, as soon as we were decently out of sight of each other. There is certainly something different about this relationship. So far.

This evening a barrister friend had kindly arranged to cheer me up by taking me to see Avenue Q, the Muppet musical for adults who are still children at heart. It also provided me with a long-awaited opportunity to meet her boyfriend, Lovely Tom, presumably so called because “L” comes so far ahead of “T” in her mobile’s address book. So why doesn’t she call him “Absolutely Lovely Tom”, I wondered to myself? Too long to fit, I expect. Not a problem I’ve ever …

Anyway, we had a pleasant pre-theatre supper, during which I congratulated my hosts on that very day agreeing to buy their first house together: the roof is shot, one of the outer walls is bulging, it’s got rising damp and it’s an area of north London so dangerous that it can only be accessed by taxi with an armoured escort, but apart from that it’s perfect. Clearly a bargain at £0.5 million.

I much enjoyed the subsequent show, though perhaps not quite as much as my fellow Geordie who delivered the loud critical judgement “f***ing brilliant!” from the front row of the circle as the curtain fell. Probably the theatre critic of The Journal, now I come to think about it. We then concluded the evening with a delicious pint of Adnams’ Broadside in a pub which was coincidentally holding the finals of an Amy Winehouse lookalike competition. Or so it seemed from the appearance of the quite spectacularly inebriated young woman who was slumped over her boyfriend at the bar. I don’t know what he was planning to do with her, but I felt that someone should have had a quiet word advising him to do it about two hours earlier if he wanted to avoid extensive soiling of his carpets and soft furnishings.

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