Sunday, 10 July 2011

School Reunions, Virtually Topless Bumping, And The Mosquito From Dubai.

"Why do you always wear black when we go somewhere special?" says Max, as I'm getting ready for the school reunion.

"Because it makes me invisible," I say. "You don't want to draw attention to yourself when you're going to be the least successful person in the room."

It certainly achieves that, as no-one takes any notice of me for the first hour after we arrive at the hotel. Including Max.

I'm not sure he wouldn't rather have stayed at Dad's, hopping channels and drinking beer.

"What's the matter with you?" I say. "You've hardly said a word so far."

"Well, I'm not as comfortably invisible as you," says Max. "Not at my height. And I didn't even go to this school, did I? I bet I'm the only person here who's both unemployed and under-educated."

I feel a bit guilty then. How did I forget that Max failed his eleven plus? Not that passing it has done me much good, unless that's the fault of this stupid outfit. Someone's already asked me to take their coat.

I'm about to suggest we do a runner, and go for a drink somewhere else, when I hear a distinctive voice.

"Well, if it isn't little Molly James, playing the wallflower - as usual. Some things never change."

"Hello, Jemima," I say, through gritted teeth. "Nice to see you too. Though, actually, it's Molly Bennett now." I gesture at Max, who's got his back to me and is staring hopefully at the fire exit. "This is my husband."

"Max?" says Jemima, as he turns to face her.

"Jemima," says Max. "Bloody hell."

He looks an awful lot more enthusiastic about reunions now.

"Do you two know each other?" I say.

"I should say so," says Jemima, saying so. "Though not from school, exactly. More like after school - eh, Max?"

I'm pretty sure Max actually laughs when she winks. I've never liked people who wink.

"Can I borrow your husband, Molly?" says Jemima, not waiting for an answer. "Come and dance with me, Max."

"Oh, Max hates danci - " I say, as Max follows her on to the dance floor.

They're still there more than an hour later - and I'm still sitting at the bar by myself, eavesdropping on Phil Mould. He's discussing accountancy with James Oakenfield, (who's a merchant banker - like bloody Jemima - but who isn't any more interesting for that). Neither Phil nor James has the faintest idea who I am.

I'm not sure that I know, either. As if it wasn't bad enough having to say that I work for an MP when anyone asks, now I don't feel like Max's wife. I feel more like mosquito bait. If I get bitten one more time, I'm leaving - with or without Max, though the latter option seems more likely.

In the meantime, I'll have another gin. If Greg were here, he'd tell me to get my own back by having it put on Jemima's bill, but I don't have the nerve - unlike her. I'm sure her bosom fell right out of that dress a minute ago.

I turn my back on the room, and concentrate on fishing the lime out of my gin. What is wrong with a slice of lemon?

"Blah, Sage, Blah, Accounts," says Phil.

"Blah, Hedge Fund, Blah, Bonus," says James.

I've finally lost the will to live, and have just laid my head down on the bar, when I feel something tickle my neck.

"Argh," I say, swatting it away. "Fuck off, you bloody thing."

"Ow," says Johnny, rubbing his cheekbone, where my ring has caught it. "Do you have to injure me whenever we meet?"

I look down at my glass, trying to work out if I have drunk so much that I'm hallucinating, but Johnny's still there when I look back up.

"Surprised?" he says.

"Yes," I say, though surprise doesn't really cover what I'm feeling. Panic might be a better word.

"Why on earth didn't you tell me you were coming?" I say. "My husband's here, you idiot."

"Very funny," says Johnny. "I've been watching you for the last twenty minutes, and you've been on your own the whole time. No sign of any husband at all."

"That's because he's over there," I say, pointing towards Max, who really doesn't need to be slow dancing with Jemima to The Bump.

Johnny looks over at Max, but doesn't say anything. I don't think he knows quite what to say.

I certainly don't, so I finish my gin and order another. God knows how much food money we'll have left for the month if I don't slow down.

"Isn't that Jemima your husband's dancing with?" says Johnny, still staring towards the dance floor.

"Yes," I say. "So he got there before you. All the way from Dubai, and then you end up being stuck with me."

Johnny gives me a funny look, pulls up a bar stool, and sits down.

"What are you talking about, Molly?" he says. "I'm here to see you, you know that."

"Huh," I say. "You told me you weren't coming, so don't think you're fooling me. I know when I'm not wanted."

"You don't bloody know when you are wanted, though," says Johnny. "You told me you were coming, didn't you? And without your husband - which is why I decided to surprise you."

"Oh," I say.

I can't think of anything to add, though Johnny can.

"I do wish you'd try a bit harder to keep up," he says. "Now let's go outside. There isn't a Science Block in the hotel garden - but there is a rather nice gazebo."

"I can't," I say. "Max is over there - somewhere. And I'm supposed to be his wife, not yours."

"Doesn't seem to be bothering him," says Johnny, as he takes my hand.


  1. AT LAST - you have your chance with IDGOC. Don't blow it Molly, make the most of it and enjoy the ride...

  2. Me blow it? When do I EVER bugger things up?! Oh, okay, I see your point ;-)