It’s a funny thing spending time with a close friend’s eight year old. It’s a novelty…and I’d kind of like to keep it that way…knackering and refreshing at the same time.
But quite recently I got something much more from some quality time with my Goddaughter. It is Hannah I have to thank for finding my inner self, a social status beyond my salary and a life of mystery and intrigue. It’s Hannah who gave me my imaginary boyfriend.
We – her mum and me – had just flopped onto the sofa, shoes off and feet curled under, a glass of wine apiece, and sighed a collective sigh of contentment.
Hannah was in bed, warm and sated after the departure of a deluge of Britneys, Jades and Harriets. We had managed a squealing sea of pink spangly Barbie-wielding divas for the best part of four hours. Jackie, Hannah’s mum, looked at me over the rim of her glass of sparkling Pinot Grigio with big beautiful tired brown eyes. She was smug.
Twelve children – eleven of them someone else’s – only two of them siblings, equalled ten grateful mothers and a heart-warming cumulative 40 hours of payback childcare. That meant serious collateral in the adult dinners out department, in the adult lie-in department and blowing off the cobwebs in the passion department.
I smile back. None of these women owe me anything – I have love-loathed every minute, emphasis on love – nor would I know what to do with a returned favour. I have no kids; I have no adult partner for illicit child-free indulgence. Just plenty of time for self indulgence and long solo lies-in.
Yet I find myself becoming adept, even expert, at the production of novelty birthday cakes suitable for those who have not yet achieved the kudos of a two-figure age. I turn up, cake in arms, in shoes that are an acceptable hybrid between fun, sexy, wild–spirited mother’s friend and reliable aunt who can command authority during pass the parcel. Not too pointy, not too high. Tops are similarly chosen. Necklines not too low, contents not too pointy.
I take a sip of the clean, fresh, chilled wine and let the bubbles samba along my tongue. Something is sticking in my bottom. It’s Barbie’s boyfriend Ken. Well one of them anyway. He’s not wearing any trousers. Things are looking up.
I look at the perfect hair and the chiselled jaw; and the lack of dangly bits. Still another glass of wine, beer goggles on, he may be only 12 inches high and a bit lacking in the trouser department, on both counts, but hey, he’s here and he’s into my bum.
Jackie looks a question – “home?” It’s greeted by vigorous nodding.
Back at Casa Logan I pay the taxi driver and negotiate the front door lock in the light from a partly obscured half-moon. Leaves gust and eddy around the porch as I struggle to find the keyhole. The exterior light has popped its clogs.
Once inside I eye the furious feline who has been denied attention and a constant door opening service for an afternoon and early evening. Even as he reclines on the pink fleece of his cushioned wicker bed the plane of his ears project at a grouchy angle. Kind of like a feral cat that has been wearing a flat cap for days. The whiskers on the left side of his face are also bent grumpily and his top lip has become caught unawares by a lower fang causing him to adopt an Elvis-esque sneer.
St John (pronounced Singeon) – my cat – a large silver tabby Maine Coon with a dense mane , permanent fluffy toe separators and magnificent ear tufts is rubbish if he doesn’t get a full 17 hours sleep a day and 24-hour on-call waitress service.. “He doesn’t even begin to appreciate grumpy,” I mutter as I make my way through to the kitchen. Perhaps a visit from the Valkirie under-eights might make him hold me in even a modicum of esteem I wonder.
After a brief feeding and ear-scratching interlude I turn my thoughts to how to spend the rest of my evening. It’s only nine o’clock.
I mentally riffle through the options. Call a friend. Nope, all married with single ones living far, far away. Go to the grimnasium. Oh for goodness sake it’s 9pm and you have just done three hours of bouncy castle, pin the tail on the donkey and assorted egg and spoon nonsense. More wine? Ok then.
I pour a glass of Chilean red and wince at the size of measure. These glasses are really deceptive I chunner to myself as I amble about wondering where to sit.
Conservatory and look at the stars, sitting room and re-runs of Stars in their Eyes, bed and look at the stars before inspecting the inside of my eyelids. Option three. I shuffle about drinking the wine and then saunter into the shower, jim-jams and bed.
I want a boyfriend. I want one so badly that I have begun to indulge even those with mad twitches, abundant facial hair and over-active saliva glands. During one date I felt as though I had wandered unwittingly into an amorous car wash as I struggled to fend off vibrating wet bristles.
I’ve done boyfriends; in fact I was always pretty good at the whole girlfriend thing I think as I wrap the duvet around my legs. St John begins a lengthy and elaborate nesting ritual in the crook of my knees before settling to purr and dribble. His celebration of the utter ecstasy of a goose-feather duvet with wrap around body heat is a solo joy I muse although, obviously, I could purr and dribble if the fancy took me, it’s no skin off anyone else’s nose.
But of course that’s just the thing isn’t it. I want someone who is prepared to see their nose regularly skinned. I pull the duvet over my ears and fleetingly remember sex. Why is it the only wet patch on my bed is from cat dribble.
I drift off and dream about my boss, Brian the Bastard. He is mid-way through telling me off for not ‘making target’ when he coughs up a fur ball. His eyebrows raise in mild surprise and I rush forward with a tissue which he bats playfully away. His hands are tabby.