Communication from Wimbledon Man was not expected. I let my phone be for a while, thinking that it would be prudent to allow some time to pass before replying. After all, he had unfriended me on Facebook. In fact, he had blocked me on Facebook. Maybe I wouldn’t reply at all. I was busy trying to find a YouTube channel for a the amazing guitarist from The Folky Pub (and failing) anyway.
I told him that I was well, thank you for asking, and how was he? He told me that he was well too and that he worked for the Pope.
‘The Pope? Good Lord (no pun intended).’
He did not elaborate on this but he did say that he had missed me. I pointed out that he had been the one to unfriend and block me, to which he said that he was sorry, he got upset and it was stupid of him to do so. I said that it was fine and I inserted a ‘lol’ so he knew that I meant it and that it wasn’t a ‘fine’ that is said through gritted teeth. He asked after the chicken and we had a laugh about that, then if I wanted to see him. I said that that would be nice, but I made it clear that I was not interested in a romantic meeting. He seemed OK with this, so we left it there . . .
I paid the Italian a visit the following morning to sort out my hair. He was nifty with the scissors/colour/dryer/whatever else I fancied and he cut me a good deal (pardon the pun) usually throwing in a little extra for nothing, such as an Indian head massage or a hot conditioning treatment, which was today’s freebie. And he did exactly as I asked, whilst providing honest advice. I had cut corners with my hair for so long (sorry – and that one) due to watching my pennies, but currently, I felt the need to put my hair in the hands of an expert and it was reassuring to know that someone else was taking decisions over my barnet.
Joseph was home with Hannah, which was lovely. They had loaded my car with bits of a wardrobe and so after the Italian had worked his magic, I went to the tip with shiny, sashaying hair. I hope the guys at the tip appreciated my effort. Rhiannon had put in an appearance on the day of Joseph’s and Hannah’s arrival, but had returned to her uni house for partying purposes. We were due to meet again for furniture purchases for the new house on Tuesday, so things were taking shape.
On that Saturday night, however, the evening before Easter Sunday, I delivered Joseph and Hannah to a pub to watch a football match and turned my attention towards a showcase night that was happening in a pub in the centre of the city. The Rastafarian had asked me if I would like to go; he was supposed to be playing there around 8. As it was heading towards that time, I pulled over to message him to enquire as to the whereabouts of said pub, as I hadn’t a clue.
‘I don’t remember.. Check online babe..’ was his cavalier reply.
‘So you’re not there yet? I’ll come and get you. Better than sitting on my own in a pub for an hour,’ I replied, rather brusquely.
But strangely, he did not want that.
‘I’m going home then,’ I threatened.
‘No – no – Hun, no! Please . . . Meet me.’
But his abject fear of my collecting him both vexed and rankled with me. I wouldn’t even have known where to go – he was visiting a friend, so he said. Unless he had lied and was actually at home with someone he did not want me to meet . . .
‘Let me collect you or I’m going home,’ was my final offer.
I sat in the car for a minute or two, waiting for a reply. Then I looked at my nice top, my freshly applied make-up, my coiffed hair and thought I’d go anyway. I don’t have a problem with going to pubs on my own, I remembered . . . It was Saturday night – what else would I do? So I looked up the whereabouts of this pub and it turned out that I did know it.
‘Don’t go – come on – I’m sorry – please,’
I’d already parked round the corner from said pub, which was near to The Cosmopolitan Bar I had enjoyed visiting for Open Mic nights during our relationship. It was in a street which housed a multitude of pubs, bars and restaurants and was one which my mother had told me to avoid as a child, but where I had stumbled into kebab joints as a teenager in the early hours after heavy clubbing, with friends.
‘I’m here,’ I reassured him on the one hand, ‘but because I want to be here and I won’t necessarily wait for you,’ I clarified my position on the other hand.
‘Where is it?’ he asked and I wondered how serious he had ever been about playing here on this wet and windy night, which was discouraging me from venturing beyond the dry warmth of my car, where my hair would stay looking coiffed, but no-one would see it but me.
I told him it was the cosy pub with the roaring fire that he had taken me to once and he got it.
I wandered in and the music was not apparent. There was an amp and a mike, but nothing was happening. I went to the bar and before I could say ‘half a Guinness and black’, a big-built chap with curly, sandy-coloured hair, put out his hand by way of introduction and said,
“Oh. Er-” the barmaid was awaiting my instruction, “half a Guinness and black please!”
I was still holding his hand.
“Sorry – I’m Lisa!”
I smiled and returned the hand to Simon.
He had a serious face and the swiftness with which he had introduced himself made me feel awkward. I hadn’t had time to settle in my surroundings, buy my drink or decide where to sit. The barmaid took my money while the Guinness took its usual eternity to pour (for which I am grateful – an inexperienced barman did not let my Guinness settle the other day before finishing it off and it was, frankly, sub-standard. I would have complained but friends had taken me there and I didn’t want to offend anyone). She handed me my poured-to-perfection beverage and rather than face the discomfort of an obvious rebuff, I asked the barmaid to watch my drink while I went to the Ladies’. And off I went. And it worked. I returned and Simon of the sandy hair had gone. I chose a table where the Rastafarian would see me when (if) he turned up and I could watch him perform.
“Are you meeting someone here?” sandy-haired Simon was next to me.
“Yes,” I replied as I removed the big specs, wondering if he just liked me for my glasses.
However, he was unfazed by my spectacle-free visage. I did not feel even slightly romantically inclined towards him, but when, after a considerable amount of time of clearly chatting me up, he announced that he had a wife and 2 children, I did not feel even slightly friendly towards him. An icicle from my newly frozen aura must have poked him in the ribs and pushed him back to his friend, whom he had seriously neglected anyway, and who was going through some trauma, according to Simon’s information.
“Are you playing?” Simon had been replaced by a young, studenty looking chap.
“No – watching,”
“Ah – well, the PA’s packed up so that’s it.”
I’d heard 2 songs and with that the Rastafarian was there. We chatted for a bit, about many things, including the cross I had given him (along with the letter) which I had made out of a palm from church on Palm Sunday.
“You are funny,” he smiled, “giving me a cross a week early!”
It was times such as these that made me doubt his claims of being a devout Catholic. (Not that that was a problem in itself, of course, but it was, potentially, another example of economy with the truth.) Sunday was exactly a week before Easter and was a remembrance of Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey for Passover, when crowds threw palm leaves on the ground in front of him as a mark of respect. Most Catholics would know this, I’m sure, but a devout one who called his flat a church because of the altar he had in his lounge, would be able to recount the story I’m sure, with more detail than someone who had not attended a catholic school and whose church attendance as a child had been sketchy. Walter Mitty would have been a more appropriate pseudonym for this character.
“No,” I stated, “it was Palm Sunday.”
“Yes, yes,” he agreed, but I wasn’t convinced.
I didn’t want to argue over religion and in an effort to lighten the conversation, I related an anecdote of how I had become the unofficial cross-maker at church, every Palm Sunday. I didn’t know if my way was the correct way, but I enjoyed perfecting the art every year and providing people with their home-made crosses. He didn’t seem to identify with the story at all, so either he had bigged up his piety, or things really were different in Rwanda. But anyway, he remained chilled and talkative, happily allowing me to touch on topics that normally would bring about a stern look, as if I had blown his cover as a field agent. The shift from ‘relationship’ to ‘friendship’ was a positive move. Eventually I left, as it was getting late and I left him there, apparently with no money.
The next day was Easter Sunday. The sugar drought was over! But actually, I wasn’t that enamoured with the notion of gorging on sugary goodies hitherto banned since Pancake Day. I had included myself in the purchase of chocolate eggs, but disaster had befallen the Easter treats. I went to Mass on Good Friday, forgetting that they were in the boot of the car. It was a sunny day, so I parked under some trees, where they would be safe from the sun’s welcome (unless you’re chocolate or snow) rays. I came out of the church, only to be greeted with a parking ticket, which was unexpected. I thought I was allowed to park there on Bank Holidays. Damn, I thought, replacement eggs would have been cheaper! I went home, feeling piqued. Then, some time later, I ventured out to walk the dog . . . No. I’d still left the eggs in the car! They had melted. Tenderly, I transported them into the house and with great care I deposited them in the fridge to reform. One of them was so deformed that I revealed it a couple of days before Easter whilst Joseph, Hannah and myself were watching a movie and they fancied some movie sustenance. The other was just a little sunken at the back, but passable. Rhiannon’s turned out to be ok, just with slightly malformed chocolates. But mine . . . Oh dear. It had a white bloom and was actually crumbly. It felt like wax in my mouth and was so disgusting that even the dog was sick when he ate a morsel that fell his way (onto the floor, because, of course, as Snoopy says, everything that falls onto the floor is rightfully the dog’s). Just in case anyone wants to tell me that this is a dog’s usual reaction to chocolate, he has pinched chocolate before and been unaffected. Although I have heard an alarming rumour that Cadbury has changed its recipe. If my chocolate egg was a result of this, it is a gloomy prospect indeed . . .