Friday, June 26, 2009



Surfer Girl and I head in the direction of where we have been informed the beer garden resides. Having been slightly dubious about the venue Breakfast Club Boy had lured us into due to its exterior I have been pleasantly surprised - inside it is all mismatched old furniture, statement wallpaper and hidden booths. Equally I have just been charged £4.50 for a glass of Pimms so I am, quite literally, paying for the distressed pool table. 

We round the corner and there, in all its glory, is the beer garden.

All two metres of it.

For the beer garden is little more than two tables on top of some concrete. I clock slightly too late that the tables are occupied by men in day-glow jackets. And I didn't need that post-Oxford summer spent doing admin on a building site to know that groups of builders with pints in their hands is not my natural habitat.

Surfer Girl and I look at each other.

"Let's sit inside".

We nod in agreement and turn.

"Where are you going?" comes a voice from the beer garden hole.

Where the day-glow shirts are not would be the truthful answer.


"Don't do that - come and join us".

Oddly enough we decline and sit inside.

Talkative Builder, however, decides that our brief appearance is enough to merit an invite to sitting at our table.

"Have you been working today?"

"No - I was sat in the sun reading poetry" Surfer Girl offers.

Even though I have three jobs and the MA still to finish I cannot muster much more: I wrote my column for and watched Wimbledon. I am not sure how much scrutiny this stands up to.

"Poetry?" Talkative Builder questions.

"I could read you some" Surfer Girl offers.

Silently I marvel at her ability to engage, as polite as I may be I have very little time for small talk when I don't want to small talk. And pre even a sip of my Pimms I do not want to make small talk with a stranger unless that person has floppy hair and a guitar/ a desire to appear on stage at The National/ is writing a novel/ answers to the name of 'David Tennant' [delete as appropriate]. I am flawed like that.

So Surfer Girl begins to read 'Monogamy' and I am immediately charmed by it -

Though as charmed as I am I still notice Bald Builder pull up one of the leather arm chairs so he is sitting next to me -

"You had to pick a long one" I interject.

Surfer Girl has clearly clocked this too and begins to read quicker.

Meanwhile Bald Builder's eye level sinks to somewhere around my breasts.

I decide to focus across the table, Surfer Girl's poem the source of all of my interest.

Poem over it seems it is time for introductions. At the very least Bald Builder now knows the name of the girl whose breasts he is starring at.

Talkative Builder, meanwhile, has launched into a protracted story of which I am not sure where the punchline is going to come.

And then I see Breakfast Club Boy walking over to us. I smile even though he is wearing a t-shirt clearly given away free in a whisky promotion.

"How are you?" he asks.

I try to wordlessly communicate that help might be needed. Whether my pulling faces achieves this is debatable, though I sense the situation has been noted.

"Are you nervous?"

For Breakfast Club Boy is compering the improv night that has led to us being in this bar with these builders. He has a lot to answer for.

There's a slight pause. "Yes".

"Hold out your hand" Talkative Builder demands.

Breakfast Club Boy obeys, purposefully shaking it.

"I should go back - " Breakfast Club Boy indicates and I realise then that he is to leave us to the mercy of the builders. More than that there is nothing I can do given that he is on stage in thirty minutes and demanding he stay here is somewhat bad form.

"Good luck".

It doesn't come from my mouth because I am nowhere near gracious enough for that to happen.

He disappears from where he came, Talkative Builder begins talking again and Bald Builder's eye level resumes its contact with my chest.

Mature to the end I text an expletive and set about downing my remaining alcohol because I suspect this will be funnier then.

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