Shaolin Travel Agent Karma

A guy approached to chat her up. No sooner had he started with his lines than she had sent him packing and was laughing raucously with her friends as he retreated. She would be too much for me.

I left her well alone.

She was wearing a Wu-Tang t-shirt. She had blue eyes and long blonde hair with dark eyebrows. When she smiled, she was cute. Super cute.

My mate, Al organised travel for the cops: conferences, seminars, bringing people in for court cases.

He was on the phone for most of his working day to the cops’ preferred travel agent in London. His contact was a local girl who had relocated and was visiting at Christmas. He was meeting her for a drink at a city centre bar. I was going to be his wingman, but I was under strict instruction to keep my distance.

I had a cushy Government job pushing paper around a desk and arguing with my co-workers. It was a laugh, but the pay was awful. To give you an idea, I once got told-off for dancing during overtime.

I would meet Al and his travel agent for a drink after our office party.

It was the typical office party. Everyone drank too much and the cougars set on the young lads. Unfortunately, I was one of the young lads. I managed to extricate myself from one slightly manic clerk’s clutches and exited stage right, blinking into the bright afternoon sun.

I found Al perched on a bar stool, chewing on a toothpick, an affectation which did not make him look as cool as Jimmy Dean (or at all).

I was going through my early-20s hip-hop phase. I was wearing ridiculously baggy jeans, but drew the line at baseball caps. Al was wearing a long coat and fancied himself as one of Withnail and I. We were a pathetic pair.

Then she arrived.

It was the blondie I had seen the Saturday before. She appeared at my side with a tray of pints and offered me one, smiling. I was speechless. She explained she had heard all about me and tested my hip-hop knowledge, throwing in some very obscure acts, which I knew and even caught her out when she tried some made-up acts on me.

Al quickly became my warmup act, struggling to contribute to conversations on Public Enemy, New York hardcore, whether “Paul’s Boutique” was better than “Endtroducing”. I was in my element.

We agreed to meet up at a show that weekend. Again, it was non-stop chatter with Al cutting a sad peripheral figure. She was driving and dropped him home first. We got to my house and she gave me her number.

I was thrilled.

I went straight out the next morning and bought my first-ever mobile phone.

We spoke daily.

I counted down the days until she was visiting again. She had organised a free suite in a five-star hotel in the city – one of the perks of being a travel agent.

We went out to a club. We drank and danced for a few hours before my bladder waved a white flag and I had to excuse myself. There was a long queue for the bathroom. I eventually got to the front.

There was one toilet and one sink, but the room was quite spacious. There was a pretty girl smoking on the window sill, slurring into the middle distance. She looked half asleep, but perked up when I came in. She wanted to… give me a hand.

Discretion got the better of me and I excused myself rejoining my travel agent.

We went straight to the hotel suite and didn’t sleep a wink.

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