I have some bookings next week, so I might not be blogging quite so prolifically as usual. But I do plan to serialise chapter 2 of my novel when I can. As an aperitif, this is an adaptation of a story from the Ottermobile…I
In a Leyland pub I settle with my Guardian and Gillette Soccer Saturday, knowing I need to make two pints last six hours. It’s no mean feat – nursing a drink till the froth puts rings on the inside of the glass is the pub equivalent of stealth-camping, you’re sitting quiet, hoping to go unnoticed, while of course gazing upon the world as it goes by. I’m all good in my chosen corner by the window, except that someone does notice – the barmaid, who bears an exciting resemblance to Bet Lynch.
Somewhere between 50 and 60 and trying to knock ten years off, she is blonde, busty, voluptuous, provocatively-cleavaged in leopard-print and done up to the nines. Her locks are a towering beehive and her ears are pierced with orange-stoned dangly numbers as loud as windchimes. In younger days she would’ve been beautiful and though three marriages, six kids, thirteen grandkids and a current torrid, door-slamming relationship with potential hubby number 4 have taken their toll, she is still shaggable. I imagine a throng of men loitering at the bar either staring at their pint or more likely her impressive chest. I could be one of them, because I shouldn’t be a bit surprised if I fancy the woman.
I get her story when I go up for my second ale and she comments, neither inaccurately nor judgmentally, that I am a slow drinker. I laugh and confess that if I had the money I’d be supping quicker and coming back more often. I am not looking for sympathy just stating fact. But anyway she seemingly feels sorry for me and puts this one on the house. If money doesn’t change hands then life-stories do. The bar is quiet right now, early knockings, so there is the freedom and privacy conducive to intimacy and familiarity. She’s noticed I’ve been scribbling in my notebook so I tell her about my project, that I’m searching human stories and characters and I’m currently on my way to the Lakes. Oh, and if she doesn’t mind my saying so she reminds me of Bet Lynch, and then I kick myself for having a big mouth and hastily add that’s meant as a compliment, I’m a massive fan and I’ve been lucky enough to write for that character. Amazingly she laughs and tells me to stop digging, she’s not offended, she’s heard that dozens of times, though in the pub game she doesn’t get much time for telly and anyway she’d prefer Emmerdale if she were pushed, and by the way her name is Lucy.
Lucy doesn’t hail from the North West, she is a Leodensian. She hasn’t travelled much beyond over the Pennines, too many kids and too little money, though some years ago she flirted with the idea of emigrating to Australia with her first husband… but that didn’t happen because he turned out to be a cock. As did husbands number 2 and 3, she adds wistfully.
I could flirt with Lucy for hours but there is football to watch and a crossword to do and the bar is getting busy, if three men swapping tales at the bar with the occasional glance at Lucy’s cleavage and a bloke with a dog could be called that. And as I sip my free pint and watch my team go down again, I ponder how loveless and lonely is my life. But maybe all of us are lonely, I muse, even the three men swapping stories at the bar with the occasional glance at Lucy’s cleavage and the man and his dog.
By 7pm I’m sitting in my tin can with my guitar, thinking about life’s simplicity. And I think about Lucy and her cleavage, her beehive and honey-coloured earrings and her door-slamming husband-to-be. I want to get to know her more but clearly that’s impossible – “Would you like to come back to my van?” is a far from impressive chat-up line and tomorrow I’ll be driving to the Lakes. And of course she is taken. And of course I shouldn’t assume that just because she bought me a pint she wanted to get me into bed. So as I stealth-camp in a layby somewhere near Preston I cuddle up in my mummy bag and say to myself, “You’re on your own again as usual, cock.”