Friday, 10 September 2010

Short Sight, The Pox and Emanuelle in Nurse's Clothing.

God, what a total shambles. It seems that I am much better at affairs of state (at an admittedly-unimportant level) than at affairs of the heart.

When Max drops me off at the Marriott - which really is bloody miles out of Northwick - Greg is hiding in the lobby, waiting for me. So far, so good. He bundles me straight into the Gregmobile and drives me back into town.

Considering what a terrible driver Greg is, this is not as bad as it could have been, although there is one very hairy moment, when we almost catch up with Max, who is waiting at a set of lights. I don't think he notices us - but it is unnerving, all the same. To avoid any repetitions, we have to pootle along at about 40mph for the rest of the journey, which makes me late to meet Johnny.

I rush into the hotel, looking a bit windswept and very harassed, and am so busy trying to smooth my hair out that I walk straight into someone waiting at the reception desk.

"Excuse me," he says, in a very snooty way, and then, "Molly?"


God, he looks exactly like Putin. Same build, probably the same height - considerably shorter than Max but thankfully not a midget like me. Even the same air of authority, initially - but this doesn't really live up to expectations when he fails to get the hotel to sort out the error they've made with his booking. It turns out that he's been given a single room instead of the luxury double he'd booked. This is probably because he normally has someone like me to book his hotel accommodation, and is incapable of doing it properly himself. Let's hope the similarity with The Boss ends there.

Things improve when we sit down at our table. Johnny can't stop looking at me, and I feel really, really self-conscious, although the lights are so dim that, hopefully, he can't see my incipient beard. I relax a bit after a couple of gins, though - and then we eat, and everything is so nice. At least for a while.

We're just two people, talking: about life, our hopes, how we feel about the choices we've made. No-one mentions kids, or bills, what's for dinner or where the clean towels are. I haven't felt like this in years. Like a woman, instead of just a function.

When we've finished dessert, it's already quite late. Johnny leans back in his chair, then says,

"So, now what? Shall we go up to my room? No pressure - but I know I want to."

No pressure, my arse. Half a continent travelled, the vagaries of Heathrow and British Rail negotiated, a hotel cock-up and an a la carte dinner paid for. I could hardly say no, even if I wanted to. Though I'm not at all sure whether my shivering is due to excitement, nerves or just the omission of my thermal underwear in honour of the occasion.

He takes my hand as we walk along the corridor. It's the first time we've touched, and it feels more intimate than you'd think possible for such a small gesture. Then he opens the door to his room, flicks the overhead light off, and leads me inside. Oh God.

"So here we are," he says. "At last."

He pulls me towards him and leans forward to kiss me.

"Ouch," I say. My hair is caught in the metal hinge of his glasses. Untangling it seems to take ages, and he has to take the glasses off to do so. He puts them down on the chest of drawers, which can only be a good thing as I am sure I look much better without them. Then he moves in for another attempt at a kiss, misjudges the distance and almost headbuts me.


He steps back, catches his foot on something, and promptly falls over the corner of the bed. There's a hell of a crash and I start laughing. I can't help it - it's a nervous thing with me: I always laugh when people fall over. Though I stop when I switch the light back on and see the blood on Johnny's forehead, and his deeply unamused expression. He must have hit the edge of the bedside table when he fell.

So just when I should have been turning into Emanuelle, I have to do a Florence Nightingale impression instead: cleaning the wound, and finding a plaster, while all the time Johnny's sitting there squinting. It's not a good look, but I try not to focus on that. I doubt he can focus on anything without his glasses, judging by how thick the lenses are. I can't see anything when I try them on in a misguided attempt to lighten the mood.

Eventually he's all patched up, and he shuffles over so that I can lie down beside him, and takes me in his arms - it's a good job I'm so small, as the bloody bed is tiny. He starts stroking my shoulder and kissing my neck. This is more like it. Then his mobile rings.

"I'd better get this," he says.

Half an hour later, he's still talking, though God knows what about. His side of the conversation seems restricted to questions about degrees of fever, and the number and location of someone's spots. It must be another Global Oil Company disaster. What on earth have they done now? Poisoned a water supply, or something?

I am dying for a cigarette, so I mime that I am going outside, but Johnny waves at me to wait. Then he says, into the receiver,

"Excuse me a moment, darling - room service is here." Then he covers the phone with his hand and says, "Molly, I'm really sorry about this. It sounds as if my daughter's got chicken pox."

He's on the phone to his wife. His wife. Oh, my God - what am I doing? While my husband is at home, waiting for me. I find my shoes and my bag, blow Johnny a kiss and walk out.

I phone a taxi from the hotel lobby, and am at home before Newsnight has ended. Max is asleep on the sofa, so I tiptoe upstairs and take a shower. I feel so grubby. Though at least I've already had chicken pox - not that I was likely to catch any other kind, given the absence of any exchange of bodily fluids. There wasn't even any nudity. I might as well have worn my thermal underwear.


  1. Tosser - I don't want to meet him now even if he is the ID of GOC and I haven't had it for months...

  2. Glad you are ok Molly :-)