Amazing. I had arranged a date with a stunning, sexy, vivacious girl who was also my bosses’ daughter and an heiress. Sophie must be one of the most desirable single women in the area – good looking, rich and famous. I expect everyone will be very envious when they find out. It’ll be the subject of store gossip and local news. I imagine I will suffer a loss of my privacy, but what the hell, I could do with a bit of glamour in my life. It might be cool to be recognised in the street. What will my family and friends think? What will Chakka think? Would she be pleased for me or jealous? My mind raced out of control.
Then I sobered up. I had to decide what sort of date I should take Sophie on. It couldn’t be expensive so no posh romantic restaurants. The cinema or theatre would be no good as we wouldn’t have a chance to talk. A pub would be naff. Problems, problems, think laterally. Oh I know we’ll go bowling. That’d be fun. Even if she’s crap at it we’ll have a laugh and I could always help her if she’s completely useless. What about eating though? I wouldn’t want to eat there. Naff food. Oh there’s that little veggie place not too far from the bowling. We could go there.
I was thinking these thoughts as the train rumbled west towards my folks in North Wales.
It was my little brother, Stanley’s, birthday so I’d decided to make the trip home for the weekend. This meant a 20 minute walk to Crewe station, catching the train to Bangor and being picked up from the station there. Unfortunately it was throwing it down as set off and I got soaked before I reached the station. I bought a soup to warm myself up and a paper to read and I found a seat on the right, the coast side, so I could admire the view. The railway trip was lovely, overlooking the Dee estuary, past Llandudno, then views down the Menai Straits. I always savoured the Welsh scenery, especially after weeks in Crewe, and wondered if I’d ever be happy living anywhere else. Even the low clouds and rain streaming down the window didn’t spoil the view.
John came to pick me up in his electric car. I asked how Stanley him was doing and whether sister, Teresa, was going to put in an appearance over the weekend.
“Oh, I’m not sure about that. You’ll have to ask your mother.”
One of John’s eccentricities was his refusal to have anything to do with any social arrangements. I was hoping Teresa would be there, preferably on her own, without her new husband, so we could have a real family weekend. Jock is great, I really enjoy his music and I love a good sing song but when he gets his guitar out it tends to dominate everything else. I know that makes me sound like an old spoil sport. Unfortunately Teresa’s often too busy to come home even though she only lives in Aberystwyth and she’s expecting. She seems to have been pregnant for ages but I’m not exactly sure when the baby is due.
It had stopped raining by the time we arrived and I had largely dried out, not thanks to the car heater which was pathetic. There was a lovely smell as we entered the house and it felt warm too, very welcoming.
“Hi Wendy,” as I gave my mother a huge hug. She was a very touchy, feely person and I always got a warm glow from her hugs. “What’s the smell?”
“I think that must be Stanley’s birthday cake.”
“Where is the birthday boy?”
“Off with friends, they’ve gone go-cart racing, 6 of them as his birthday treat. Then tomorrow’s birthday tea will be just for the family. It’s what Stanley wanted.”
“Wow go-carting sounds fun. I’ve always wanted to go there. Sulk, sulk! I didn’t know what to buy for his present so I thought I’d just give him money. I know at his age that’s what I wanted. What have you done for him?”
“We’ve bought him an adventure summer camp at Plas y Brenin. They do a bit of everything, canoeing, bouldering, coasteering and so on. Don’t let on you know though. It’s a surprise.”
“Wow, lucky boy. Is he staying there or are you taking him every day?”
“Oh I know it’s not far but we feel he’ll get more out of it if he’s away from home for the 5 days. Don’t we John?”
“What? Sorry I wasn’t listening. I was trying to work out the heat loss through the lounge window in my head.”
“I hope you’re not considering covering it up with layers of bubble wrap like you have in the bathroom.”
“I was thinking about doing just that. After all you do like the place warm.”
“I also like the view, so no don’t do that. Anyway it’s spring now and the weather’s starting to get warmer.”
I rang Sophie later that Friday after Stanley had gone to bed but she couldn’t talk and asked me to phone back a half hour later. I decided to go to bed and phone her from there. It was lovely lying in bed in the dark just hearing her voice. We had a very long call and she turned me on with stories of her dressing up for some function tomorrow. We didn’t get round to arranging what we were going to do on Sunday but I promised I’d call tomorrow at the same time.
The birthday tea next afternoon was a great success, a real family affair – all the usual stuff, sandwiches, cake with 14 candles, ‘happy birthday to you’ song and Theresa arrived just in time. Afterwards we played games, as we always did on such occasions. John got himself into a bit of a sulk because he lost at the train game and at Rummy Cup. We are all very competitive and show no mercy to the losers. It was nice to be back in the ambience of my warm family and I felt very lucky.
I was a bit late getting to bed for my promised phone call but Sophie didn’t seem to mind. I’d been a bit worried about how she would react to my suggestion for our date so I brought that idea up straight away and was really gratified that she really liked it.
Sunday morning dragged a bit although I did persuade Teresa and Jock, who arrived at coffee time, to go for a walk. Teresa was looking very pregnant but it didn’t seem to affect her as much as it looked as if it should. She’s always been a coper. The daffodils lining our drive had just started to wilt and some of the trees were starting to bud. Nature is truly remarkable, how did a tree or a daffodil bulb know when to emerge? They always come out at the right time. It couldn’t be temperature as it had been a cold March so far and other years we’d had warm springs so presumably it had to be daylight. This would mean that trees and bulbs can measure the length of days and only decide to emerge when the day length was right for them. And bulbs are underground?
Jock said he’d not thought of that and yes it was amazing. Teresa wasn’t really interested in our philosophising and wanted to talk about Wendy and John. She thought they were getting more and more eccentric. I told her not to worry about it as they both seem in excellent health and happy in themselves and with each other. I said I was impressed how Wendy had made all these plans for planting at Cwm Dinas and how amazed I was at how cozy John had made the house by just burning a small amount of wood in the range cooker, which also provided enough hot water for washing and the odd shower and was the sole source for cooking.
Jock agreed with me.
“They’ve always been eccentric,” he said, “and you love them for it. They only seem more extreme when you haven’t seen them for a while and you’re in the mind-set of ‘normal’ people. I think their way of life is great. It wouldn’t suit me because I like meat and pubs and beer and other consumerist things which they disapprove of but that doesn’t stop me having enormous respect for how they’ve chosen to live.”
“Thanks for that,” I said “I am a bit concerned about their conversion to veganism though. It just makes them even more out of step with the majority of the rest of us. Anyway it’s up to them. So what are you up to these days? Still in that rock group?”
“No, that sort of fell apart. The drummer left us and I think we’d all had enough. Things move on. I’ve a new venture now. I’m in a gypsy jazz trio with a couple of great musicians – fiddle and bass players.”
“Oh, shame about your rock band. I really liked it.”
“Yeah but my new band is very exciting and we’re really going places. I actually prefer the style of music. Maybe it’s my age. We’ve arranged to go to France this summer to the Django Rheinhardt Festival and play with the best gypsy jazz bands in the world. You’ll have to come and see us.”
“Wow, that sounds good. Maybe I could hitch there and camp. Oh we’d better be getting back,” I said “it’s nearly lunchtime.”
The smell as we walked back in was wonderful and nostalgic, reminded me of all the other meals I’d had on Sundays. Vegetarian food can be just as delicious as food for carnivores. I’d tried telling that to some of my mates back in Crewe that but they all dismissed the idea. If only they weren’t so narrow minded. Anyway Wendy had cooked roasted stuffed cauliflower and chickpea curry, jacket potatoes which we had with garlic bread and salad. And for a pudding we had summer pudding with soya cream. She proudly announced that she’d baked the bread and grown the fruits for the pudding. She’d also cooked some chips and sausages for Jock who was very unadventurous with his diet.
I was dropped at the station soon after lunch. I was very excited and, if I’m honest, a little nervous about my date with Sophie and I wanted to have plenty of time to get ready. I wasn’t sure what to wear and what I’d thought of as a good idea before, going bowling, seemed a bit odd now even though Sophie had assured me only last night that she loved the idea. I tried to read my book on the train journey home in an attempt to occupy my mind but ended up dozing.
Tim phoned on Friday and Saturday nights and we chatted for ages! Really cool stuff. He didn’t mention our date on the Saturday phone call and I wondered what he’d got in mind. I asked him straight out on the second call.
“Any ideas on what we should do?”
“Well Sophie, Wendy, that’s my mother, plans on cooking an enormous Sunday lunch so I don’t think I’ll be up for eating out. That is unless that’s what you had in mind. In which case I can always manage to eat, I’ve a very flexible stomach.”
“No I shan’t be hungry tonight either. We could go to a film. I’m not sure what’s on though?”
“No, I thought if we did that we wouldn’t get a chance to get to know each other. What about going bowling? I’m not much cop at it but it would be a laugh.”
“OK. Wow ages since I did that. What a cool idea!” I enthused outwardly but was rather taken aback. Not what I’d imagined for a first date. “Why don’t I come and pick you up at 7. You’ve no car have you? Where do you live?”
He then gave me directions to a house with a bright red front door in a backstreet in the middle of Crewe. I’d wondered where he lived. When I woke up next morning I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was too excited to have breakfast. I started to watch the TV but couldn’t concentrate so I put my wellies on and went for a walk. I like the feel of the fresh air on my face and the sound of the birdsong but I was lazy and didn’t often venture out. I felt euphoric and walked right round the village, far further than I’d ever walked before. I still wasn’t hungry and just had one Staffordshire oatcake and cheese for lunch. Then I went upstairs to my room to sort out what to wear – something sporty or something glamorous? In the end I tried for something that fulfilled both roles and wore tight-fitting black leggings with a tight-fitting black top which showed off my figure to advantage, I hoped, and a fancy gold belt to set it off. Eventually it was time to go. I set off in plenty of time and arrived fully ten minutes earlier than I’d intended. I found the place, a terraced house in a small backstreet with cars parked on both sides of it and nowhere for me to park. So I hooted. Twice. Someone from the bedroom window of a house opposite shouted something and gave me the V sign. No response from Tim. Reluctantly I drove further down the road and found a place to park on double yellows and walked back and rang the bell. A stunning black girl with bright red lipstick opened the door which completely nonplussed me.
“Hi, does Tim live here?” I managed to stammer.
“Oh, you must be Sophie, come in. I think Tim’s almost ready. He’s out of the shower anyway. I’m Chakka, Tim’s housemate.” With this she grabbed me and kissed me on both cheeks.
Just then Tim appeared looking absolutely gorgeous in a polo shirt and black jeans.
“Hi Sophie. This is my housemate Chakka. Oh I see you’ve introduced yourselves.” And he casually wiped off a bit of Chakka’s lipstick from my face. I was feeling a bit lost.
“Look,” I managed, “I’m parked on a double yellow line. Could we go. I know I’m early but I wasn’t sure how long it would take to get here.”
“Oh, OK. I’m almost ready. Where are you parked?”
“That way,” I indicated.
“You could wait in the car if you like. Just in case any parking wardens show up. I’ve just got to clean my teeth.”
“No, I’ll wait.”
He dashed up stairs leaving me with Chakka, me not knowing what to say. I needn’t have worried as Chakka put me at ease.
She said, “Tim obviously didn’t tell you he shared with me. I can see this has thrown you and you’re not the first, by any means. Even in this day and age everyone expects Tim’s house mate to be male. And Tim never warns his visitors. I think he delights in surprising them, you. Don’t worry we’re not romantically connected. I’m engaged and my fiancé lives in Bristol and we see each other every weekend at the moment. It’s not ideal but we are planning to move in together soon, depending when can both get jobs in the same town.”
Just then Tim appeared and ushered me towards the front door.
“Bye Chakka,” he shouted. “Have a good un!”
As we walked back towards the car Tim said, “I’ve booked a lane for half-past. And another at 10. I thought we could have one game, grab something to eat and then have another game. I hope that’s alright, only if you don’t book you can queue for ages.”
Once in the car I wanted to find out a bit more who this Chakka was without seeming to pry too hard.
“Is Chakka your only housemate?” I ventured.
“Oh yes. The place only has two bedrooms. I think I see what you might be thinking. No we’re not lovers. In fact we hardly see each other. She’s engaged to this chap in Bristol and spends every weekend down there. And she spends every evening on Skype to him. Otherwise, I’d be there. No I wouldn’t really, she’s not my type.”
“Glad to hear it. Am I your type?” I said rather anxiously.
“Well we’ll find out if we suited to each other tonight.”
The evening went well I think. I’m no great shakes at bowling but I did manage a couple of strikes and Tim was very gentlemanly and told me how well I’d done. I found it a bit difficult to concentrate. I suppose a fear of making a fool of myself. Also I had a stupid smile on my face all night. The meal was different from my normal fare. Tim didn’t want to eat the kind of food they served in the bowling place so we went to a little vegetarian restaurant not far from the bowling allay. The décor was homely, gingham tablecloths and candles, and the food excellent. I was amazed how tasty my meal was, never having really ventured down the vegetarian route myself. I did get a bit upset because one of Tim’s friends was sitting on the table next to us and insisted in talking to us which meant Tim and I didn’t have the kind of cosy, intimate evening I’d hoped for.
He did invite me in to his place and miraculously there was a parking space, a very tight one. I backed straight in and enjoyed Tim’s appreciation of my parking skills. He made me a very nice coffee, apparently he was really into coffee and had his own espresso maker. We sat on the sofa in subdued lighting with some soft music on and chatted. It was blissful but I was getting impatient for him to make a move. Just before my patience evaporated and I grabbed him he took the initiative suggesting we dance. We just swayed to the music, letting our bodies touch, my breasts pressing into his chest, his leg between my thighs, his arms encircling me and my fingers digging into his back. When he kissed me I almost lost control. I was ready for him to fuck me and said as much but he said it was too early for him. This was a new experience. Usually I was desperately trying to protect myself from the unwanted attentions of randy men.
I felt totally at peace with the world as I drove home although I was slightly worried that I’d been too forward. We’d agreed to meet next evening and I was sure I was in love. How did I know this? I had butterflies in my stomach and a silly grin on my face as my Dad remarked when I walked in.
“What are you looking so happy about?” he asked.
“Oh am I? Nothing special.”
“Been out on a date?”
“Might have been.”
“Anyone I know? You finished with that other berk didn’t you?”
“Dad that’s hardy fair. Maybe you’re right. He was a bit of a wally.”
“So who’s this one?”
“Oh he’s an agricultural student at Rease Heath. He’s lovely. And I met him at the Crewe branch when I was working there. He was on his vac job.”
“OK. I hope he’s not just after you money though.”
“I don’t think so. I don’t think money is high on his list of priorities. He’s more interested in saving the planet. Anyway I’m bushed so I’m off upstairs. Goodnight, Dad.”
I gave him a little kiss.