Abridged EXTRACT from Diary of a Provincial
I'd never been to the Glass Bar before although my partner Georgie
is a regular, being in
London more often, meeting up with work connections.
Was amazed and charmed. Resembled Doctor Who's tardis - tiny on the outside,
spacious within - enough room for several settees, armchairs, coffee tables
and masses of women. Would have liked to go over the room with a tape measure
and then compared inside measurement with outside measurement. Said as much
Georgie immediately welcomed as if she's an old
and dear friend of everybody. I stood behind her,
my smile about level with her shoulder. Suddenly
felt I had a deeper understanding of what, HRH, Prince
Philip might have gone through. Obviously many of
his more ill-judged remarks were a form of attention
''This is Margaret.'' Georgie finally remembered
me, ''Margaret, meet Rosemary, Sandra, Abi, Chris,
Tanya, Lizzie, Jo Anne....''
As always when I came into London with Georgie
to meet her friends I regretted my choice of clothes,
my wide, flapping trousers which I'd seen as boho-chic
looked ridiculous, everyone else wore boot leg jeans,
the collar of my shirt was unfashionably huge and
there wasn't a patterned shirt in the room never
mind a pattern of gaily wrapped toffees. How did
I invariably get everything so wrong?
''Hi what do you do?'' I asked Lizzie or maybe
''I'm a choreographer - modern ballet and jazz
Swallowed, 'Crikey' and 'Well I never', said instead,
''So how do you know Georgie?''
''She designed the lighting for our company's last
production, Women on women want Women on Women.
Georgie's brilliant. How do you know her?''
''I'm her partner. We've been together nearly ten
years. Anniversary next month.''
''Great'', she said making 'great' sound somehow
like 'dreary'. ''Better get a drink. You're ok, aren't
you?'' She nodded towards my almost empty glass.
''Yes. Fine. This is more than a sufficiency,''
kicked myself in the leg, hard.
Sandra or Lizzie disappeared into crowd around
the bar. Could see Georgie at the crowd's centre.
Sighed. Drooped. Slumped. Suddenly my glass was whisked
out of my hand and replaced with a full one.
I stared into a rather sombre face. Tanned but
not like Georgie's tanning booth tan. Tanned like
someone gets when they work outdoors. The woman must
have been at least ten years my junior. She was my
height; brown hair cut short, steady brown eyes.
Nothing really distinctive about her and yet the
thought sped across my mind that she was quite unique.
Not in an immediate physical attraction way, just
an observation, a first impression. And I knew absolutely
that this first impression was true.
''Thank you'', I said, ''I'm Margaret.''
''I know. I heard someone introduce you. I'm -'',
but she got no further, another woman grabbed hold
of her hand and pulled her across the room, ''Bye,''
she called out, ''Take care.''
Which was nice. Which for a little while transformed
the evening. Met up with Georgie's parents. Georgie
adores them. I'd adore them if they'd adore me. They
quite like me but ideally they want a much grander
partner for their only daughter. I don't mind. Or
I didn't mind. My happiness held right up till we
left the restaurant. We stood on the pavement saying
our goodbyes, buttoning up coats, kissing cheeks.
The parent looked fondly at me as if I was at least
an endearing puppy. One with high spirits and boundless,
bounding good nature. I didn't mind that either.
I said, ''Now don't forget, put aside Saturday
March the 20th. You can stay over. There
won't be masses of guests, just close friends and
Georgie's mother said, ''Any particular celebration?''
Georgie said, ''Don't worry ma, nothing definite.''
''But of course it's definite'', I said, ''Or have
you got some secret, romantic plan tucked up your
sleeve? Can you believe it, a decade together and
still deliriously happy?''
Couldn't stop burbling. Ma and Pa-in-law were looking
uneasy, sending enquiring glances to Georgie, Georgie
shaking her head at them and narrowing her eyes.
Something was very wrong. I shut up.
Georgie said, ''We'll have to see.''
In silence we walked to where our car was parked.
In silence we drove for nearly an hour. Georgie switched
the radio on once, Eric Clapton singing about his
darling looking wonderful that evening. She switched
Georgie broke the silence. She said in a quiet,
cold voice, ''I wish you hadn't gone on like that.
Why must you always pre-empt a situation?''
Had no answer as not aware that I pre-empted situations.
''All I'm saying,'' she continued, ''is it's not
such a great idea making a fuss over one day in the
calendar and anyway purely logistically, it's not
going to work out.''
''Why are you talking to me as if I'm a client
and you're explaining a hitch in a business project?''
I asked keeping my voice mild.
''I'm trying to bring you down to earth, that's
''No, that isn't it. You're trying to tell me something
unpleasant but wrapping it up in cold words.''
''Better than turning everything into a bouncing
desperate cheerfulness,'' she said, ''With you everything
has to be a joke or ...a whimper.''
Only I could know the effort it would take for
Georgie to be so cruel. She wasn't , isn't a cruel
woman. These words of hers weren't carelessly said.
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