Twice the Gooseberry

I hadn’t got the results I needed to study Spanish at University and move to South America.

I had planned to live my dream of writing about mythical one-named players slaloming round moustachioed big-haired defenders’ scything lunges, intricately exchanging passes and lashing in goals from 30 yards with precision, strength and balletic poise.

Instead, I had taken a course in Business Administration and a place on a Government training scheme, working in an import/export company on an industrial estate on the outskirts of a small market town, desperately trying to move into the 20th Century.

I wasn’t miserable and enjoyed the work, learning lots.

It was when the company took an attractive student intern to develop a new product that my head was turned. Sure, I had lots of girls as friends, but this student was different. She had a pretty face, wore a long trench coat and listened to obscure bands I had only heard the name of.

I was very (easily) impressed. We worked closely for a month and then the time came for her to move on and present her paper to the University.

She asked me if I wanted to go for a drink with her to celebrate the end of her placement. I jumped at the chance and we rushed to the nearest pub. It was an old man’s bar and conversation flowed easily. We left and visited another half-dozen pubs, both drinking pints.

The evening was going great! She was easy company.

We decided to get fish and chips from a shop on Main Street. While I paid, she nipped outside to the public phone. She rejoined me smiling and grabbed my hand pulling me out of the shop. We ate the chips laughing, tipsy from the beer and hurried to the next pub.

We walked up to the bar to order and the barman called her name, leant over the bar and kissed her on the lips. Passionately, with plenty of tongue. He was well over six-foot. I wasn’t even close.

She introduced him as her boyfriend and bought me another drink. I pinned it, looked at my watch, made my excuses and jumped on the next bus.

I hopped off the bus and saw a light on at a nearby ex’s house.

We had had an on/off thing for a while, but then both got into more serious relationships and drifted apart. There had been no animosity and we still kept in touch.

I was feeling brave and marched up to the front door. I took a deep breath, eager to try my luck and rang the bell.

Luckily she answered.

She looked gorgeous, even though she was wearing tracksuit pants and a baggy top. Her hair was tousled and she had dark eyeliner on, which I had a thing for.

She asked me to come in and as she got herself some wine from the kitchen, I told her my sorry tale about the tall barman boyfriend. I was still buzzing from the alcohol and cold air.

I had been jabbering for a good five minutes. She hadn’t spoken.

She picked up her wine and motioned me through to the front room, where she had been watching the end of a movie… with her new boyfriend.

I immediately froze.

He was also wearing tracksuit pants and looked pretty settled and not that thrilled to see me.

I waited until the movie credits rolled, made my excuses, and got the fuck out of there.


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