© Stuart Warner Phelps
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It was the sheer eccentricity of the advert that dragged me in; ‘Apartment share, no loud music, book reader, must like curry’. I laughed aloud when it caught my eye. It was so innocuously vague; almost as though someone was having a joke.
I read it again; there were no other details, nothing to inspire, just an email address. To cap it all the ad had been placed in ‘miscellaneous’ rather than the more conventional ‘flats and apartments to rent’.
Although I hadn’t been thinking of moving I felt drawn to respond and replied in the same casual style…‘saw your ad’ and gave my name and age.
Much to my surprise I received a response, and by the middle of the following week I was being shown around a fairly upmarket apartment in a better area, north of the city.
The apartment was in a fluid state of renovation. An overpowering smell of fresh paint hung in the air. I could see what looked like a new kitchen, still in boxes and yet to be constructed. A new three piece suite was stacked in one corner. Unopened boxes of pots and pans lay in the kitchen area, a couple of rolls of carpet stood against the wall.
His statement, “Just moving in,” was superfluous.
The guy showing me around was an arty type, his hair was long but neat, and from the faint wisps of hair on his chin it seemed he was trying to cultivate a beard. He had what I considered to be a Public School accent. A posh voice, not over the top, just enough to impress. However, as I was to find, he was more than capable of introducing a Hooray Henrys point scoring accent, when he had an argument to win.
I was there when he berated a young constable, who had dared to question him over some triviality. He came out with an indignant “I say, hang on old chap, just what the blue blazes are you implying.” I clearly remember the constable sheepishly backing down.
I had been suitably impressed; from that day on I made a conscious effort to speak as though born to royalty
He introduced himself as Greg. Had I met him in the street I would have labelled him as a laid back hippy, yet he had only to open his mouth to hear the polished tones of a private education. His clothes spoke of money and made to measure tailoring.
Yet, despite his confidence in some areas, there was also a bumbling lost vagueness about him that I found endearing.
Due to the vagueness of the advert and despite the number of communications I still wasn´t certain if I was being shown around by an agent, the owner, or more likely, the leaseholder looking for a renter to share the costs. Of course there were a number of other permutations. He had been frustratingly ambiguous, so I had to pose the question.
It turned out the venture was being funded by his parents. That ruled Greg out as the agent, but it still left me in the dark.
“I was wondering,” I said, trying to move things along, “Which room would be ours.”
“Oh yes, let me show you around,” he said, suddenly eager, he waved his arm in a vague sweeping gesture and stated the obvious, “This is the lounge and over there is the kitchen, dinner area. He pointed to the pile of unopened boxes that contained a number of ‘flat pack’ units and said with a cough of a laugh, “This will be the kitchen; I have a man coming over sometime next week.”
"Down there,” he pointed down a small hallway with three doors off, "Are the bedrooms and bathroom.”
He opened the first door, “This would be your room, mine's opposite. The bathroom is at the end. It’s a bit basic at the moment, just shower and bath, but I thought we could put in a Jacuzzi. We have one at home, they’re jolly good fun, perfect for chilling out with a glass or two of red after a hard day.”
The fact we would have our own bedroom knocked me sidewards.
“I thought it was a share.” I said.
Greg looked puzzled at this comment, and then said, “That’s right it is - your bedroom would be this one, whilst mine is over here.”
“No – I meant I thought we would be sharing a room?”
Greg’s face was a picture; he gave a look of horror and said, “What! Good Lord no - I should say not. This is an apartment share, a bedroom each. I mean…I have a girlfriend.”
It was as if he thought of leaving it at that, but then he added, “In fact I have lots of girlfriends; they’re changing all the time. I need
my privacy…that’s why there are locks on the bedroom doors.”
With a reaction as forceful as that I thought it necessary to state my own case, loud and clear. I struck the best macho pose I could bring into being, dropped my voice an octave lower, and said, “Well, I’m certainly happy to hear that Greg. I mean…there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a couple of heterosexual blokes sharing a room together…”
I caught him giving me a strange look, “But I think it’s far better if we…”
My voice petered off; I could feel a blush overtaking my face.
In a desperate attempt at clambering out of the enormous hole I’d dug for myself I almost shouted “I was thinking - once we’re settled we could organise a sort of celebration, a get-together…you and I. You with one of your girl friends whilst I of course would bring one of the very many girl friends I also have…we could go for a curry.”
I waited; looking for a reaction from Greg…it seemed I’d got away with it.
Once I’d got that sorted there was the matter of the Jacuzzi. I’d never seen one, but at the back of my mind was the image of a Jacuzzi being a massive thing, something that could sit four or even six people. I gave a half hearted smile, said, “I like the idea of a Jacuzzi, it sounds great,” and then added, “But I was thinking, they’re a bit big – would there be room?”
“Bound to be with a bit of jiggery pokery, I’ll simply leave it to my man. We could always knock a wall out!”
I looked at him, waiting for the laugh that I could join in with. But he seemed to be serious. I didn’t know anyone who was born to wealth. I knew one or two who still had a few pounds left over after the weekend but that was simply because they didn’t go out.
Being a tight fisted git was no way to lead your life.
It seemed Greg could have a few pounds left over after the weekend. But talking of buying a Jacuzzi as thought it was a last minute thought?
I had no idea how much one would cost. But it was a sure fired certainty you wouldn’t get much change from ten thousand pounds. Next it would need to be installed. Knock out a wall or two. But then - he could always get his man to do that.
Each one of Greg’s innocent given revelations only helped sketch the different life styles we lived. It helped me understand any chances of living here was at best a long shot.
I poked my head into what was earmarked as ‘my’ room and nearly fell over with surprise, it was huge. There was room for a double bed plus all the other furniture. It was a fact, my single divan bed and the little furniture I could pull together would look lost.
Greg must have noticed the look on my face and misunderstood, “My room is exactly the same size,” he said as he swung the door open for inspection.
“Of course there’s no hard and fast rule. You could have whichever took your fancy.”
“It´s not that,” I said, “I would be pleased with either. It´s just…well it’s a big room. I was thinking of all the furniture I would need.”
“Oh didn’t I say. The whole apartment will be fully furnished, all brand new furniture courtesy of my parents. They’re extremely protective…wouldn’t like me living rough.”
He looked around then added, “Of course the carpets will need to be fitted – that’s on the agenda for next week.”
“By your man,” I couldn’t stop myself saying.
It flew over his head, if he registered anything he certainly didn’t show it. He simply smiled and said “Yes, I think he starts next
Rather than being elated at this news my heart sank. There would be no way in the world I could possibly afford to live in the splendour of this luxury.
After showing me around we moved into the lounge with a glass of lager each. I was admiring the cut glass tumbler I had been handed when he came straight out with it.
“So - what do you think?”
What did I think? I thought it was bloody fantastic. It was something I´d only dared dream about. Playing Mr Cool I said, “I think it is really nice Greg…I envy you.”
“No...Come on. What do you really think?”
I didn’t know what to say. As we hadn’t discussed what he expected for the rent, I certainly didn’t want to appear too enthusiastic.
The thing was, I didn't need a calculator. I could already see it was way beyond anything I could afford. This was a two bedroomed apartment, with a separate lounge, plus a large kitchen diner. In my book that would be six people sharing, two in each bedroom and two in the lounge.
Greg was looking for one other person to share the whole accommodation with him. It was what I dreamed of; I had been living in student accommodation, bedsits and the like, since leaving home.
Home -I hadn’t been kicked out, nothing like that. I could go back anytime. In fact not a week went by without mom saying just that. The thing was I was twenty-four; it was time to stand on my own two feet. But more importantly mom and dad lived too far out.
A great living if you wanted a rural life liked animals and fancied working on a farm.
However I had ambitions; they may be late developing but I was determined to make something of my life. I had already discovered it was not easy, especially when there are thirty or more all chasing the same job, and more importantly you weren't quite certain exactly what your ambitions were...other than pulling together a large amount of money in as short a time as possible.
When you have bills to pay a fellow can’t afford to be picky. I’d been a burger chef, worked on the underground, demonstrated non-stick frying pans and worked a printing press at a newspaper. Then, after a month’s training course, I acquired the position I still hold, a health and fitness instructor at a gym in the city. The place is open seven to nine seven days a week. All the staff work a rolling one day on one day off, seven in the morning to nine at night.
To be honest, you can hardly call it work. Boredom is the greatest enemy. But I did get every other day off and this is where I did my real work.
I’m a freelance reporter. Well with an A in English, History and Geography I thought it was about time I put them to good use. I’ve been doing it for just over three years. Had quite a few column inches, even been given a couple of projects. I also write short stories for magazines. Had a few published…enough to keep me working at the gym.
I’d never been out of work, held a job since leaving school. The problem was I was not progressing in life; I had been standing still, probably slipping behind if the truth was known.
I caught on early; hard work on its own wasn’t going to make me successful or rich. Most people I knew worked long hard hours, they arrived on time and were diligent and hard working, yet all they achieved was the ability to pay their monthly bills on time.
To really succeed you needed that lucky break.
This is what I thought I had achieved as I sat in the lounge of this potentially fabulous apartment sipping at my larger with Greg, Gregory Sinclair Hay-Peters, to give him his full title. We seemed to get on, in that strangely reserved manner that two people have when meeting for the first time. I certainly fitted his rather limited requirements. I didn’t like loud music, never held parties, liked to read and adored curry.
What he offered more than adequately fitted my desires. My own bedroom, with a door that had a lock on it, enabling me to work as and when I needed to, a bathroom with a separate shower, a kitchen so big you could swing two or three cats around if you had the mind, a completely separate lounge. The whole thing set in a fantastic upmarket area. There was just the one catch as I saw it - we hadn’t discussed the price.
“How much do you think you could afford?”
The question caught me unaware.
“What – do you mean for the rent?”
“Yes, I was just wondering what you could afford - you know each month.”
I was instantly embarrassed, maybe it was my background, but I didn’t like talking money at the best of times. If something was for sale at one hundred pounds, it wouldn’t cross my mind to offer less or haggle. It was either a fair price or not.
A further factor of my embarrassment was the knowledge I couldn’t afford to live here.
I had been dubious just standing outside and noting the neighbourhood, the lack of litter and graffiti. The walk around the apartment only confirmed my thoughts.
The harsh reality was I couldn’t afford much more than the amount I was already paying, which was £160-00 a week, of course on top of that there were all the services, gas, electricity, water and the council tax, this went up and down dependant on the number of people living in the house, at the moment there were four of us.
I did a quick calculation, including all the services £188-00 a week was what I was spending at the moment, and that was without any of the luxuries, like food – clothes - soap.
“Well…I’m paying £160-00 a week at the moment.”
I noticed the look of disappointment cross his face.
“However”, I quickly added, “I could probably stretch to maybe £170-00 a week.”
This was more than I could afford, but, I was thinking, once I was in my own room, with no interruptions, I would be able to concentrate on my freelance work, probably sell more.
Greg’s face could hold no secrets.
“That’s only £8,840-00 a year, Mother said I should ask a minimum of £9,360-00, which is £180-00 a week, do you think you could go up to £175-00” that’s £9100-00 a year. He did all of these calculations in his head, seemingly without even thinking.
“The thing is,” I said, “There are the hidden costs, the rates and water rates, electricity, all that. The point being with just the two of us they are bound to be high.”
“Oh, there will be no other costs, all of the services and the rates will be met on standing order, paid for by my parents, of course we would need to buy our own food, and I’ll warn you now, I’m a bloody awful cook, but I can do a jolly good curry.”
I kept my face still, but I was tingling with excitement at this new information. Then I had a thought which I voiced, “How many more people will you be showing around?”
“You’re the only one to reply, I think my ad was too clever, or vague. In retrospect, vague is probably the best of descriptions.”
My heart soared, “Well Greg I have to say this is exactly what I have been looking for, I would like to move in and I’m in a position to pay...”
“Oh, you will need to have an interview with my Mother,” Greg interrupted, “She will be making the final decision.”
I had been about to say I could pay the full one hundred and eighty pounds. It was less than I paid now for my one dump of a room, in a very unsavoury area. This in comparison was a palace. I decided to hold those cards close to my chest, to use when at my second meeting with Gregory’s Mother.
We exchanged email details and I was just leaving. Standing on the steps I had what I thought was a stroke of genius and asked him if he would like to continue our get to know you chat over a curry. I could tell he was interested, but it was not to be as he already had plans.
I received a message from him the next day making arrangement for a meeting with him and his Mother at the apartment on Friday evening at six thirty. I arrived at ten minutes past six and had to wait almost an hour because they were stuck in traffic.
The first thing I noticed was the extra furniture and the fact the carpets had been laid, the curtains hung. The kitchen looked empty of clutter, the pots and pans presumably now inside the cupboards rather than in boxes on top.
It looked ten times better than when I had been first shownd around, and to my eyes it had looked absolutely fabulous then. Now it had the makings of being a dream home.
We stood in the hall and Gregory introduced me to his Mother, Dr Susan Hay-Peters.
“Oh, hello Doctor Susan” I stumbled, “It’s very nice to meet you.”
She was a very attractive woman, slim, neat and immaculately dressed, I don´t know anything about fashion, but even I could tell what she was wearing was stylishly elegant, rather than fashion, and shouted money.
“Oh please, it’s Susan. Let’s not be formal, after all it looks as though you will probably be sharing this apartment with Gregory.”
We made our way into the lounge and took our seats as Doctor Susan continued, “However, not Sue. I do hate it when people shorten their names, Gregory does it all the time don’t you dear – I’m forever telling him. Now Grant – that´s a good strong name. I can’t imagine anyone shortening that, what’s your surname?”
“My full name is Grant James Ellison. I was born in Scotland, but my family moved south when I was three.”
“Oh how interesting, my husband, Geoffrey was born in Edinburgh, and he left when he was nine, or ten, I can’t quite remember now.”
She gave a smile and said, “I’m not sure if Gregory mentioned my husband and I are paediatricians’, we work together at the same hospital, Doctors Geoffrey and Susan Hay-Peters. We were hoping there would be a Doctor Gregory Sinclair Hay-Peters – but it was not to be.”
She gave her son a pat on his knee and said, “Brilliant mind, just not tuned into the world of medicine. I sometimes wonder if we were to blame, with both parents being doctors and our expectations, it must have been a heavy burden to shoulder.”
“I’ve told you before Mother, it was nothing like that. It has nothing to do with you or Father; I simply didn’t want a career in medicine. Anyway, if I may remind you, the reason we are here is to discuss the possibility of Grant sharing the apartment with me.”
The details fell out of her mouth, some of them very personal, whilst Gregory sat at her side, nodding or shaking his head.
Unbelievably Gregory’s situation was more similar to mine than I could ever have believed. His parents also lived in rural isolation, even more remote than my family it would appear from her description. Gregory, like me, wanted to get away from the family home and stand on his own feet, make something of himself. It could have been me telling my story.
Then we came to the cross roads, the parting of the ways between his story and mine.
I had come to the city with little more than six hundred pounds in my pocket, on a make or break mission, prowling the streets looking for work.
Gregory was being bankrolled by his parents. He already had a prestige job in the city, obtained by his father, and now he was moving into a nice apartment, brought by his parents, with all running expenses found.
Doctor Susan was justifying the expense of purchasing rather than renting. “It just made sound economical sense to buy, put your money in bricks and mortar, that’s what they say. Geoffrey and I both rented when we lived in London, student flats, but that was thirty years back. We did look at renting, but it seemed to us that whilst the cost of renting has increased ten-fold or even more, the standards still remain depressingly primitive.”
Over the interview I gained the impression, although it wasn’t actually expressed in as many words, Gregory’s parents were concerned about his welfare in the big city. I sensed Doctor Susan was worried that her son, whilst undoubtedly far superior in intelligence to the average man on the street, was not all that bright when it came to the mundane day by day living. The ways of the world seemed to pass him by whilst he immersed himself in the deeper, more theoretical aspects of the world about him.
Simply put he wasn’t street wise, both his parents worried about this fact, they could see the headlines; Doctors Geoffrey and Susan Hay-Peters only son found in bedsit land with throat cut...it was for this very reason they had insisted on some kind of restraints.
If he was determined to lead a life away from the comforts of home, they were insistent there would have to be controls.
It seemed, recognising Greg’s short comings, whilst understanding his need to create his own way in life, they were looking for some kind of chaperone.
In exchange for accommodation and a substantial allowance Gregory would need to advertise for a suitable individual to share this accommodation with him. The result was the understated curry orientated advertisement, that failed to stimulate, and produced only the one applicant - myself.
There was an exchange of mobile numbers, mine and both the Doctors, plus their house phone number. Then, much to my undisguised delight, I, Grant James Ellison was invited to share the accommodation with Gregory on a six month contract at £780-00 a month, £180-00 a week.
We shook hands to make the deal binding and made arrangements to draw up a formal contract. As I shook Gregory’s hand he whispered, “Call me Greg when my parents are not around.”
We stood outside on the pavement and exchanged pleasantries for a while, then after shaking hands again they climbed into their car. They were just about to drive off when Greg leant out of his window and said, “I say – can we offer you a lift somewhere?”
“No thank you Gregory, I’ve got some shopping to do – anyway, it’s not that far.”
This was a complete lie, ‘home’ was across the other side of the city, two long Tube rides away, but I could hardly be seen arriving at my dump in a luxury Bentley.
After they had driven off and were well out of sight, I crossed the road and stood opposite the splendour that was to be my new home, and almost wet myself with excitement.
‘Moving in’ came with its own difficulties, thankfully, with the house being fully furnished, there wasn’t much. Just my personal effects, laptop and books, all dragged across the city on the tube.
I’d borrowed a suitcase from Martin from the flat next door. That, along with my battered case had already made three trips. I was back, picking up the last few things and also returning Martin’s suitcase. However, as it was late, I decided to rough it and stay the night, then set off first thing in the morning.
I was awoken in the early hours by the steady and rhythmic slapping of the headboard against the wall; it was accompanied by shrill squeals of encouragement. This was a nightly occurrence, usually twice nightly; the noises came from Martin Meehan´s room that backed onto mine.
Almost a year back I had moved my bed as far as possible from that wall, but there was no way of escaping the regular performance´s executed with great aplomb by our resident Casanova. He seemed to have an almost insatiable appetite and when I met up with him I expected - well I´m not quite sure what, a bronzed Adonis I supposed.
Yet he was small and thin, with baby blue eyes and a mop of curly blond hair that was so outrageous it looked like he was wearing a wig. Whilst he looked like a cheeky pixy, there was a certain charisma about him. At our first meeting, he introduce himself, with a casual, “Hi, I´m Martin and we stood and chatted.
I didn't fancy him – nothing like that, but I fully understood what the girls saw in him.
I’d never met any of the women he entertained; he was strangely reticent about that. But I was able to recognise a wide range of voices, each interestingly different, as they pronounced their pleasure.
After a restless night I awoke and began checking around the room, pulling the draws out, searching the corners, I wouldn’t be back, and I certainly didn’t want to leave anything of importance lying around.
Then it was next door to return the suitcase I had borrowed from Martin Meehan. I gave a sharp rap on his door and was greeted with a panicky, “Just a Minute.”
After standing in the hall for a good five minutes; the door opened a crack and his face appeared, I could easily determine he was in the nude.
“Just returning your case Martin,” I said, “Thanks for letting me borrow it.”
“Oh that’s no problem,” he definitely looked flustered, “Just leave it there will you.”
I gave him an astonished look and said, “I can’t leave it out here, someone will nick it.”
He gave a gasp of frustration, opened the door a little wider and keeping his lower body well hidden, took the suitcase off me.
I had a clear view of his bed; it was fairly rumpled, with most of the bed linen lying in a heap on the floor. Occupying prime spot on the bed were two fantastic looking naked girls. One gave a cheeky grin and a rippling finger wave.
“Another busy day then?” I said.
Martin looked at me as thought he didn't understand, then noticing where I was looking he glanced behind. After taking in the vista, he gave a knowing smile, brushed his blond curly hair off his face, gave a bold wink and said, “Yea, it´s all go. I’m on overtime this morning - but then someone has to do it.”
I was about to make a witticism of my own, but he slammed the door in my face.
A few seconds later hysterical screams of ribald high spirits could be heard, along with Martins coarse laughter. I just knew the familiar sound of the headboard banging against the wall would soon start up. That sound had plagued me for months. Now I was certain I would miss it.
I stood outside and took a last look around. The street was littered with rubbish, blowing and tumbling in the wind, graffiti on every wall, not a tree or hint of green anywhere. I was moving from this depressing view to an upmarket area, with front gardens and hedges, trees and bushes all around. I should have been filled with excitement. Instead, for some reason I felt sad.
I found myself thinking, ‘I’ve had some good times here, it wasn’t all bad’.
There was that time I got beaten up. Now that was entirely my fault. I owed £60 to my karate teacher for three lessons I´d had, but not paid for. I hadn't paid because I was broke. The excuse I gave, that he was a crap teacher, not worth the £20 a lesson certainly didn’t help matters.
Somehow he had managed to find out where I lived, and set up a meeting in this very street. I can´t remember the conversation, I do recall it was short, and straight to the point.
Something along the lines of, “He couldn't afford to ignore my transgression as it would set a precedence that others may attempt to emulate.” Almost certainly a lot cruder, with a number of the choicest swear words thrown in to make the message sweeter.
With that he struck one of those ridiculous poses he had spent long hours teaching me. Arms out at the side, knees bent, hands flaying the air. Whilst an assortment of strange cries and exclamations fell from his mouth he began moving sideways like a crab.
Using all the skills taught me, by the very Karate teacher now standing before me - I turned to run. But he was too quick, and I felt a stinging blow to the back of my neck that felled me like a log.
Thankfully that one punch seemed to satisfy him. When I came to I found myself lying in the gutter, bruised, but pleased to be alive.
Needless to say, all that is behind me, as is the lump on the back of my head.
I stood looking at the dump that had been my home, then with a loud “Fuck it” I set off to ‘my local´ to say my fond farewells. There was no questioning it, I wouldn’t be back.
It was a few minutes past 12-00 so I was slightly surprised to be the only one sharing the morning with John and Deirdre, the husband and wife managers of my local pub.
With no customers to occupy her, it didn’t take long for Deirdre to begin describing, in mind numbingly detail, how a publican’s life differed from how it used to be.
“If you knew the hours we put in,” said Deirdre. “I mean we never get to bed before 1-00 in the morning, so…have a guess what time our deliveries are made.”
She didn’t wait for me to guess.
“7-00 o’clock in the bloody morning.”
She pulled a face. “I mean there’s no consideration for us is there? The whole system’s bleeding daft.”
At that moment John brought his wife a mug of coffee. He nodded to me then said something about going down the cellar. At the cellar door he turned and said, “The coffee seemed a bit strong so I gave you an extra spoon of sugar – don’t leave it to go cold.”
Deirdre took a sip, pulled a face and then proceeded to drink it.
I had never really looked at Deirdre; she had simply been the manager’s wife, the person who served me my beer. But I vividly remember the kiss under the mistletoe on Christmas day. It had been like kissing the Ice Queen. There had been a definite lack of Christmas spirit.
I cast a critical eye over her. She was quite attractive in a brassy fashion. I guessed her to be about thirty-five; she was five foot three, slim with a large bust that today appeared to be balancing in the ruffles of her low cut blouse. Her hair, a voluptuous crown, came with at least five complimenting shades of highlights.
Smiling weakly at her, I picked up my pint and moved to the secluded alcove at the far end of the bar which I’d always considered to be my spot. The wall wrapped around you, it was a small alcove and once you were in there you were pretty much on your own.
Within seconds I’d drifted off into the wilderness of my mind, the vacant lot where I parked my memories, I was soon test-driving my favourite - what I would do when I won the lottery.
I suddenly became aware Deirdre had moved around to the front of the bar and joined me. She sidled up that little bit closer and forced her arm through mine as she said, “And how’s our famous Grant doing this week?”
This was nothing like Deidre’s normal behaviour and I was taken by surprise.
Also, this being my drinking arm and with it so occupied. Her sudden and unexpected movement had caused me to spill a goodly amount of the amber nectar over the counter top.
“Oh you clumsy bugger,” she said, as though it was my fault.
Then much to my increasing concern she tried to push past me. I think she was after a bar towel that lay in the farthest reaches of the counter, but it was an impossible task. There was only space for one person in that corner and I occupied it.
Seemingly oblivious to the more than intimate nature of her escapade, she began thrusting against me with even more force, pressing her whole body against me. Her left breast was squashed onto my right arm, the fact of which I was trying hard to ignore, whilst Deidre seemed strangely oblivious.
At first I’d thought she was simple messing around. Although it was a fact there were a good many of my girlfriends I hadn’t been this intimate with. With my body trapped in the small enclosed area there was little I could do. She wriggled even closer, reached past me and managed to retrieve the cloth.
I struggled with my conscience; my stiff British reserve had me staring stoically to my front. This standoff lasted for a good thirty seconds. I probably could have maintained my stance of indifference for even longer, had I not been wearing a short sleeved shirt in deference to the warm weather. With every wriggling movement, her bust pressed firmly onto my arm, and it was skin to skin.
Once she had retrieved the cloth I expected her to move, however she remained in the same intimate position and began to rub vigorously at the spillage on the counter top, whilst thrusting her body with equal vigour against me.
This action, by the laws of motion, caused one of her breasts to be so compressed there was a danger of it being completely ejected from its low slung and rather flimsy holster.
I found myself staring in fascination at the mound of undulating milky white flesh with, what I was now certain was the occasional glimpses of nipple.
Deirdre’s husband John had completely slipped my mind. However, the distant rattle of bottles snapped me back to reality and I tried to make a move, only to find myself trapped. Deirdre was by now locked in a little world of her own, her hand rubbed at the counter top with a regular rhythm that also had her body rocking and thrusting against mine. I could see her features clearly, her eyes were closed, and her face flushed. She was oblivious to me and her situation, and I realised if I was to break the spell I may have to resort to using force.
The area of the spillage now shone with a lustre way beyond the maker’s intention, but for Deirdre, the sham of cleaning the counter top was now of secondary importance. Her body moved against mine with new fervour, pressing and rubbing, thrusting in rhythmic movements accompanied by whispered gasps, despite my best intentions my body was responding.
I suddenly became aware of John; I could make out his outline in the frosted windows of the door that stood at the rear of the bar, directly opposite me. He seemed to be trying to open the door whilst holding onto the crates of beer and having difficulty.
Deirdre, oblivious to this turn of events, maintained her counter-cleaning charade, as she pushed and pressed against me in an even more uninhibited manner.
There came a renewed fumbling at the door handle.
I was now beside myself. As interesting as this unexpected turn of events was becoming it was obvious it had to stop. One of us needed to take control. With Deirdre lost, driven by some overpowering desire that she appeared to have little control over, it was up to me.
I’d already made a few attempts at extricating myself; half heartedly admittedly, I was a male after all, but being chanced upon by a customer walking in, bore no comparison to being caught in the same position by the woman’s husband, who was now standing, quite literally, at the opposite side of a pane of glass.
With the threat of a fist in the face from an irate barman, competing with my British reserve and the concept of not making a fuss, the threat won. Grabbing her arm I prepared to use force if required to move her off me.
As I pulled at her I could clearly see her face, it was flushed and her forehead was covered in beads of perspiration.
I forced my arm up, rubbing up her body, pulling at her blouse, passed her breasts, until my forearm was under her chin. Then I pushed her head back, forcibly, so as to release myself. She looked up at me in confusion, and for the first time I could see her eyes, they stared, black and shinning, the pupils enlarged. I’d seen friends with that kind of look , but only after they’d taken drugs.
There came a moment of clarity and Deirdre seemed to realise the situation she was in. She removed my hand from her arm, almost with distain and moved three to four metres away, where, still panting furiously, she made a play at polishing the counter top.
Feinting casualness, I picked up my pint with wildly shaking hands and took a sip. Then I casually glanced down the bar at her - and almost choked on my drink.
Two or more buttons had become completely adrift, almost certainly as a result of the rubbing movements against me. The whole front of her blouse had puckered up and was gaping wide open.
Her breasts, ensconced in a petite lacy push up bra that in all honesty was being stretched to do its job, were on full display.
It was difficult to believe. After all it was only midday. But she appeared to be drunk. She had struck a casual pose and was swirling the cleaning cloth over the counter top, diligently cleaning, a perfect picture of innocence. NOT.
Seemingly unaware of her dishevelled state, and concerned her husband had nearly caught her in a compromising position, she now studiously refused to make eye contact with me.
The handle turned and door began to open.
I furiously flapped my arms up and down, trying to attract her attention. When she did look over, I mouthed ‘Your blouse is open’.
All I got in return was a puzzled frown.
‘Do your blouse up, for fuck’s sake’ I silently pleaded with her as the cellar door slowly swung open.
Thankfully, John had his back to us. He was bending over and about to pick up the crates he had brought up from the cellar.
I flapped my hands and pointed to my chest then over at Deirdre, exaggeratingly mouthing ‘Look! Look down’.
In desperation I placed my hands in front of my chest as though holding two gigantic breasts and proceeded to jiggle then up and down whilst mouthing with even more exaggeration, ‘YOUR TITS ARE OUT’.
A glance down revealed her situation and she dropped out of sight as though shot.
Meanwhile John, struggling into the bar with hands full, turned in time to catch me holding onto a pair of imaginary breasts and shaking them about for all I was worth.
He looked at me in astonishment, and then quickly looked about the bar!
There was no one else there.
Slamming the crates down, he glared at me with his face full of suspicion, and I have to admit, a more suspicious sight would be hard to find.
Trying to give the impression I had merely been dusting down the front of my shirt, I began making an exaggerated mime, thumping and banging away at my chest, until a particularly hard wallop brought on a fit of coughing that had me clinging grimly to the bar.
John was a big man with a prominent nose that had obviously been broken sometime in his past. His body was a veritable gallery of tattoos, some on display at this moment as the sleeves of his shirt had been rolled up revealing huge biceps that matched his barrel-like chest.
With no control over my immediate future, I stared blankly ahead with a simple smile on my face that a village idiot would have been proud of.
“What’s it going to be? He growled. “Something you fancy?”
Beads of sweat break out on my forehead; my inane grin grew even wider.
“Crikey, I don‘t know what you mean,” I stammered.
John gave a helpful glance to my empty glass;
Giving a groan of despair I said, “Oh that… yes OK, I’ll have the same again.”