My gaydar ringing, Blonde Boy from the next table leans across -
"Are you two not going to play any more games?"
I have just spent the last ten minutes playing a moderately drunken version of 'Connect Four'. After we had worked out how to put the bloody thing together and we'd both made some elementary mistakes it had settled into a pleasing routine - namely, my winning. I am, if I do say so, a good winner.
"I think that's it now; I was winning".
I smile, suggesting that my competitiveness is not as terminal as it might appear, something only made possible by the fact that my tablemate is currently at the bar.
"Are you two going on when Sela closes?"
This is not as odd a conversation as it might appear, Sela is infamous for its drunken conversations between strangers, a by-product of the board games and the tables being so close together.
"I'm not sure - we're a bit impeded".
I gesture to the large case which, though not mine, is - as its owner has already joked - pinning me in. I have accepted the inelegance which this causes when I need the loo in exchange for all the money it has saved me as I am unable to get to the bar.
And because I feel the need to point out that we don't normally drag our lives around with us -
"He's just got back from London".
Blonde Boy looks at me. "He's keen".
I form my face into something which resembles a smile but do not say anything, realising just for a moment what the other people in this tiny bar are seeing. The same thing that, later, much later, my Taxi Driver will see when he asks if my boyfriend is coming with me. And knowing that it bears little resemblance to anything approaching reality.
The evening moves on, Blonde Boy says his goodbyes, we continue drinking, his pint glasses collecting, my veins filling with vodka, the momentary blur of aniseed flavoured shots. And we talk; of inconsequential things and jokes before we tell the truth and I take a deep breath and tell him about the things that scare me and, somehow, he finds exactly the right words to respond.
"I like it here" he says eventually.
"Even though it's spelt incorrectly" I jest.
"It should be pronounced Sailor not Cellar!"
"Remember - you're in Leeds".
We smile, he leans over and removes a piece of fluff from my hair and I make the decision that, just for tonight, I have permission to think that he is utterly wonderful.