'Go on,' I said today. 'Try it. They're 2 for 1.'
If it's 2 for 1, he'll fall for it. He's Bargain Man. He'll buy fourteen pounds of broccoli from a market stall just because he can and for the next week it's broccoli in everything. Take it from me, one can have too much broccoli jam and I've little good to say about the homemade icecream.
But, cocktails a woman's drink, huh?
So, how come, after one concoction of rum, lime juice and ginger beer called a Jamaican Mule, did he grab the waiter by his apron strings and demand an immediate refill within thirty seconds or he'd want to see the manager?
I was a tad worried. He gets chatty after even one beer and, being a gardener, will then launch into a protracted story about a visit to the garden centre to buy fence posts or tell me about all the seeds he's just ordered from the Marshalls catalogue.
|After cocktail number 9, Fran's husband had started on 'Tomato plants I have known and loved.'|
As rites of passages go, it was a success, though.
I often get my pupils at school to write about 'firsts'. My first time at the cinema. My first time as a bridesmaid. Rites of passage are a rich source of memories and impressions that aid powerful writing. The first time we do something, meet someone new, or make a discovery, can be of psychological importance, often because of associated strong emotions such as fear, triumph, or rejection, for example, or even rum-soaked joy.
Here are some 'firsts'. Do they bring back memories for you?
first time riding a bicycle independently
first time getting drunk
first night away from parents
first pocket money
first part-time job
first wage packet
first time on a stage
first time in hospital
first broken heart
first realisation that parents don't know everything
first humiliation by a teacher
first pet who died
first time seeing a dead body
first publication of a story
I got silly there at the end. I fancied some rhyme.
Out of the list above, which I typed as they came to me, the only one I haven't done is seen a dead body, although if my husband had ordered a third cocktail, that could have been my chance. His blood would have been ninety per cent rum and ginger, which can't be good for anyone's life chances.
With my first wage, I bought a guitar. I was eighteen and in my first post as a medical secretary at the London Hospital in Whitechapel, the East End of London. In my lodgings was another teenager - a nurse who played guitar in the evenings and offered to teach me. My guitar cost £17 and, armed with three chords and an ego to die for, I embarked on a world-changing songwriting career, writing songs which I warbled proudly into a cassette player, strumming away on my new acquisition, sure that within the month it would be a 'yes' from Sony.
Worse than this, I sent these cassette tapes to my foster parents, who had wisely opted to stay in Leamington when I moved to London, probably because they knew I would sing to them live otherwise.
'Here are some more of my songs,' I would announce at the beginning of the tape, then launch into my latest three-chord reedy-voiced impression of someone very ill and in need of a priest.
I've never asked them, but perhaps it was a first for them: the first time they'd ever wanted to crunch a cassette tape underneath their heels until it was dust.