Girlfriend in the sense of woman friend. No, that is my desk where I am writing this. I tried to get rid of those two awful sort-of-garden green chairs but my landlord said he had nowhere to store them and there was no question of putting them out with the garbage.
I noticed her towards the back as I walked up the steps of the far aisle in the almost empty, dark, cinema. She had shopping bags spread out around her, ordinary supermarket white-ish ones – there was something of the bag lady about her – and she sat at the end of the row, on her own.
She let me through, with grace.
Did I get her to let me through to the middle of the row because I already wanted something of her? Or did I want to sit in that row? I did want to sit somewhere around there. Happy-Go-Lucky was the film, about Polly, a light-spirited North London primary-school teacher, her day-to-day life and her friends, incidents, trouble with her driving instructor.
I had forgotten the film's name other than the 'happy' but in the little 'What is on' magazine in yesterday's, Saturday's, Guardian (that I use as my weekly radio and T.V. guide) I happened to notice that it is now out in DVD
Had I seen her face as she let me in? Not really, but I had got a sense in the rhythm of her movement of how she felt, warmly, about her appearance and imagined something positive about. She was my age group, that I could tell.
The film was gentle and warm and funny. Three and a half stars. Afterwards in the foyer - had she left first or did I go past her? I think I may have passed her as we walked out - I did not take a deep breath and asked her whether she had enjoyed it. She replied and we talked and walked and found our bicycles, her's almost as elegant as she, and we walked, and further north she had a water and I a rough - gaseous, too lively - pint of Carlsberg, never Denmark's best. Let me call her Anna. She is a foreign lady, from the Balkans, talkative, funny.
J - let me call him Rob - was waiting for me at Sloane Square tube, I could see, as I locked my bicycle and, before presenting myself, took my trouser legs out of my socks, put in there in place of cycle clips. I insisted on buying in the trendy cocktail bar, two pints of German Hefe Weizen beer at the staggering trendy-bar-in-Sloane-Square price served in fine, vertically thrusting, Hefe Weizen glasses. It only strikes me now, five days later that they were served without the lemon slice they always come with in southern Germany. Finding no room to sit inside, we stood outside, Rob's suggestion, in the English manner.
Do I make people talk? Perhaps I should put up a plate as a psychoanalyst, and listen for a Sloane Square hourly rate. Rob talked. I let him. I enjoyed his talk, always have. Because he was my boss, I know, and thus can follow, his quite particular and lightning thought processes. I do have to get him to repeat himself a little. The connections are indeed electrical. Why do I defer to him? Why do I become so passive, the shadow of my person, charming, listening.
Do I feel inferior? Rob lives intensely in a world I have begun to live in again in my pay-check life, investment. He mainlines it, as he always did, now mixing on Sloane Square comments about quoted companies with accounts of his work place and of lunches with bosses of public companies, mixing them like the barmen inside the open door are shaking cocktails. I find it intriguing, peppered with investment advice of icy quality, through the Hefe Weizen.
I say nothing, other than ask the next question. Rob works at an analytical coal-face of the industry that I am in as of two weeks and two days ago, 'asset management' it is called.
We have got on to the Georgia. Rob, naturally, has been there - he has travelled widely - and has tales to tell of the South Ossetian economy and explains to me the Ossetians' ethnic origins, how their language is essentially a dialect of Farsi, that they were a Persian population who had moved east and then had been driven by the Mongols moving west high up into the Caucuses like a number of other peoples. There they remain.
Why did I not question, sensitive being Irish to national questions, Rob's line on the Georgians and the viability of their state?
To return to Anna. We are on the South Bank and it is raining and she is talking and I am not. I had waited for her to emerge with her soft silver bullet of a bicycle from the lift that brings you from the level of the pedestrain bridge over the Thames from Embankment to the South bank level. She emerged from Anna's lift, as I call it, in a green cyclist's smock. Such a sense of colour - mainly subdued colours - and of line, of hats. These things are probably passed from mother to daughter. Her face is oval, her eyes dark, smiling like the areas around her eyes. Her straight black hair is artfully cut - she is to go roller-skating with her hairdressser - quite tight to her head, with some thin stray strands bringing out the angularity of her features. The grey woolen hat, pulled tightly over her head, to half way down her brow, mirrors the tight fit of her haircut, bringing out the slim alertness of her features and body. A touch of a Modigliani female form. Is it possible to try to describe in written words a beautiful woman's looks without ... ?
Afterwards she texts "Poor thing I didn't let you speak yesterday. Filling guilty" (I like the "filling" as if guilt is a liquid you could pour into the tank of your soul). "I wouldn't blame you if you newer" (I like the "newer") "want to see me again. A."
What did she talk about? I cannot remember. It was amusing. What am I looking for, from her, from them?
Lately, she texted me for the first time, mis-spelling my name not for the first time, something to which I am sensitive, feeling that knowing and spelling correctly a friend's name is a basic mark of respect, more than mis-spelling it, giving me another name. I was pleased that she texted me, unprompted. I think she might like me, not in the love sense.
Does Rob respect me? Does he respect my intelligence? Do I respect him, or her, Anna? Do I defend myself against the arrows of possible disrespect, of not being esteemed, of un-love by getting my retaliation in first, if only in my mind's eye, by judging, seeing or imagining a weakness and categorising the person as less than me on some abstract scale and then saying nothing? Is writing this an act of revenge, for nothing? Did my father do this? Was he getting revenge? Did I internalise a way of thinking about others, my cognitive and emotional make-up being genetically so close to his that his relation to others got encoded in my personality? How?
To be continued (or not)