My Arvon reading…

22 August 2010

So anyway, I was SUPPOSED to read out something that I had been working on about Mary Jane Kelly but then I had a very last minute switch to a piece taken from a book that I wrote in 2007 and haven’t got round to editing yet.

Names have been changed to protect the guilty because this kind of really happened. Let me know what you think.

‘I think you are totally mental,’ Lydia says with a shake of her head. ‘I have never heard you express the slightest interest in acting before.’

‘That’s not true!’ I exclaim, sloshing my drink around. ‘I used to talk about it all the time when I was at sixth form.’

Lydia scoffs. ‘Not to me you didn’t!’ She gets her powder compact out of her bag and swiftly checks her reflection before shutting it with an expensive snap. I wonder if I should do the same thing but then decide that it is pointless as my make up has no doubt already slid right off my face, as it is wont to do when the gin is upon me.

‘No, to Simon Hopkins.’ Lydia looks blank. ‘Don’t you remember Simon Hopkins? He was in the year above us at sixth form? He had red hair and wanted to be an actor? He wore purple shirts a lot.’

Lydia slowly begins to grin. ‘Oh my God! Yes!’ She shakes her head at me. ‘It would never have worked you know.’

I am instantly indignant. ‘Why the fuck not?’ I glare at her furiously over my gin.

Lydia laughs. ‘Because he had red hair and his five brothers all had red hair and his mum and dad both have red hair and YOU have red hair! Imagine the poor little bullied red haired babies!’

‘Don’t be so fucking racist.’ I am enraged.

Lydia simply shrugs off my anger. ‘So what happened with him anyway?’

What happened indeed. At seventeen I was much the same as I am now except I used to like black lipstick, absinthe, The Sisters of Mercy, crimping my hair and sitting in cemeteries. I do not like any of these things any more.  Simon Hopkins wanted to become an actor and we spent a lot of time sitting around talking about the theatre and films and that sort of thing. I don’t know what he thought about me but I totally fancied Simon Hopkins and when I wasn’t talking to him, I was planning how I would next bump into him to talk some more.

It was all very nice until a certain incident that occurred in the middle of my first year, when Simon Hopkins came up to me as I was walking into sixth form and said that he wanted to talk to me on my own because he had something to ask me. This took me by some surprise as we usually were on our own and I couldn’t help but feel a bit excited because he was clearly going to ask me out and then I would FINALLY GET TO HAVE SEX with someone.

Anyway, we met up outside my form room and stood about for a bit not talking to each other while I chatted with my friends as they went in. I thought this was okay but apparently it was not because Simon Hopkins suddenly looked a bit irritated and said that it didn’t matter any more and stomped off. Gentle listener, we barely spoke after this and shortly afterwards he started going out with a lard faced girl called Amelia and I lost my virginity to an obese role player from Chippenham.

I think this is what I resent Simon Hopkins for most of all actually. I can’t help thinking that if he had shown a bit more resolve then I would have lost my stale virginity to him instead and never once had to endure a single game of Dungeons and Dragons.

I repeat all of this to Lydia. ‘Ah right,’ she says nodding along and furrowing her brow a little. ‘Are you sure that he was going to ask you out?’

I stare at her. ‘What do you mean?’ Of course it has occurred to me that maybe he was going to ask me something else entirely but I would have thought it would be obvious to a casual, non involved bystander that Simon Hopkins was definitely going to ask me out.

‘Well, if he was going to ask you out wouldn’t he have waited to do it again some other time?’ Lydia starts to falter a bit as she realises that her theory is an unwelcome one. ‘I mean, if he was so keen to have you as his girlfriend then he would have persevered surely?’

I do not want to hear this, and so swig the last of my gin before staggering into the kitchen to get more.

The hours pass, I wake up fully dressed and lying on the sofa with my head touching the floor and the laptop ominously open on the table next to me along with two empty gin bottles, a line of salt, two sucked halves of lime and a rolled up fiver. Oh God. Please tell me I didn’t. I touch the keypad and the screen flickers into life, displaying my inbox in all of its glory. There is nothing much to see. But wait. With a wince I click on ‘Sent Mail’.

‘Oh fuck.’

It had all seemed so easy last night, so plausible. Once the plan had taken hold of my fevered imagination and after a dozen assurances from Lydia that he wouldn’t think I was a stalker at all but instead be terribly touched and pleased that I had made the effort to get in contact after so many years, I had resolved to do the deed and write to him. We toasted my fell intent with a few more gins before setting to work.

It was easy to find his email address online and here in front of me is an email which will no doubt be hitherto referred to as ‘Exhibit A’.

Dear Simon,

I bet you don’t remember me but I am Millie! We were at sixth form together ages ago and you used to talk to me on the bus about books and why the Cure were the best band in the world. Anyway! I don’t suppose you remember that or the bus or me, but that is okay because you have clearly been extremely busy since then. Anyway! I was wondering if you remember that time when you said you had something to ask me and then you didn’t ask me anything at all. I haven’t been thinking about it ever since, you understand, but was just wondering what you were going to ask me. Don’t worry if it was something boring or something unimportant but if it was interesting then I would really like to know.

Millie.

PS. I already have a boyfriend.’

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