“Call me P” said the girl whose name was not P as she sipped the Kir Royale she’d been nursing for the last hour. We were sitting in a bar in Camden for a friend’s birthday. A reserved area had been secured – under a name I didn’t recognise – which helped offset that I was spending my evening in Camden. I’ve never been fond of the place and the walk from the station past the tourists, jailbait and suppliers of recreational narcotics was more than enough to remind me why.
“But your name is..”
“If you’re going to be putting this in your blog I want to be known as P” she interrupted “and don’t mention the kiss”
“I promise” stepping up from the our table I took one of the Mojito’s I had lined up on the table after being informed that happy hour was about to end; with London prices it pays not to mess about. To say the bar was busy would have been an understatement, it would thin out once people realised the happy hour was over.
We were here for Laura’s birthday and I was quite proud that not only had I remembered to buy a card, I had brought it with me and not lost it en route. I picked it up from Paperchase, a fancy card with a lenticular animation on the front – the kind where you tilt it and the magic happens – with the only drawback that it was slightly too wide to fit in my coat pocket
“Happy Birthday” I said brandishing an envelope with slightly creased corners.
“Thank you so much. That’s a great shirt by the way” she was right, it was. I affectionately refer to it in private as my James May shirt, I used to do this publicly but this didn’t always resonate positively with the ladies.
“You’ve had your hair cut haven’t you, layered too?” I asked
“I also had higlights.”
“Nice, the bob cut suits you” two out of three wasn’t bad, but my ego had taken a knock.
I retreated back to the table just before a rumpus occurred. It wasn’t clear but some guy had said something to one of the girls in our party which was so offensive it could never be repeated, although history would ultimately prove otherwise. It was to fall to the men in the party to make it clear to this guy just how unwelcome he was and that he should leave the establishment. I had no desire to get into an altercation which might result in someone’s drink spilling all over my Brogues so left this task up to the more enthusiastic ‘defenders of a ladies honour’ in our midsts, which turned out to be all of them, with the girls as an escort into the fray. Which left me the noble job of guarding the table. I didn’t have long to consider if perhaps I had misjudged the situation and whether or not I was missing out on what my brother would no doubt refer to as “great banter” when..
“You mind if I sit here?”
I looked up to see a red dress sitting opposite me which hadn’t waited to see what my response to the question would have been. Red dress was sipping a cloudy cocktail with a slice of red chilli floating in it.
“Not at all” I said with less charm than I thought I did, “what’s that you’re drinking?”
She sipped her drink, “I forget what its called but it’s got vanilla and chilli, try some” and she placed the glass down within reach for me. You could really taste the vanilla, but that was nothing on the chilli, which was like being slapped in the face. I’d never been good with spicy food above “mild” and I hoped it didn’t show.
“Was that too much for you?” she asked with a grin.
“It took me by surprise is all” I said with as much as much bravado I could muster under the circumstances.
“So who are you here with? You don’t look like the kind of guy who would reserve a table for himself…” she looked at the A4 print out on the table “Liam”.
“Liam might, I’ve not met him. I prefer to hire a table to lure in curious young ladies who aren’t afraid to start a conversation with a stranger”
“Lucky for me I happened by when all those people who were cramping your master plan went off after that creep who was hassling the girl who couldn’t sing”
“Oh yea, it was pretty bad.”
“Well if she was any good, a sequence of events wouldn’t have led to you sitting here now, “
“And if my date had showed up I wouldn’t have idly spotted this guy whose friends all just up and left him who looked like he needed cheering up.”
“I didn’t know I needed cheering up
“You’re not in a better mood now I’m here”
“It’s that obvious?”
“No, but I was hoping you felt something too”
Our eyes held for a time. Hers were green. A faint rumble was felt on the table, she took her phone out of her bag. It was a Blackberry. I saw over her shoulder the party was returning, they seemed happy at whatever the outcome was.
“I’m sorry I’ve gotta go” she said as she put her phone back in her bag.
“Can I see you again?”.
She smiled as she stood up “I’ll see you around Richie” she turned turned and walked away. My heart sank a little.
“Finish the drink, its an acquired taste, you’ll learn to like it” she called over her shoulder as I watched her walk away.
I looked down at her cocktail, I picked it up, waste not want not. There was a beer mat stuck to the bottom of the glass, or at least I thought it was. I plucked it from underneath and put down the glass. Flipping over the card in my hand it read “If you’re Richie, call me, if not, please don’t” and a phone number. This night in Camden hadn’t been so bad after all.