by Jenny Pellett
I’m mad, stark staring bonkers. I’ve agreed to go speed dating with our Maggs. I told Brian, and all he said was have a nice time, what’s for tea. Then he went off to lift his potatoes. What’s for tea – chicken Marengo over his head, that’s what. Brian’s obsessed with growing vegetables since his accident and to be fair, we’ve had a good crop of roots and runner beans. I haven’t the heart to tell him I hate runner beans – hate preparing them, hate the taste. The kids eat them raw though.
I’ve had my nails done. Maggs knows this nail bar down Church Street so before I can think of an excuse she’s whisked me there and I’ve got Kinetic Candy fingers and toes. I don’t think blue is my colour, too varicose, but what the heck, it’ll be coming off tomorrow. Maggs went for Tangerine Tango which more or less matches the outfit she bought this morning in Cole Brothers. We usually end up there on a Saturday, just for a browse then tea and cakes in their place to eat. We spent ages going through the rails on the first floor; Maggs wanted something special for tonight. I tried to steer her towards something flattering but that’s difficult when she’s got an idea fixed in her head. She’s quite stout, our Maggs, I’ve been pushing her in the direction of a size eighteen for a while. Lin, she said, I’m not going down that road. Frankly, I think she’s already reached the T junction, but I didn’t let on.
Maggs doesn’t like being on her own. Since Mike buggered off with Brenda from the Crown and Cushion, she’s been trying toget her life back on track. She joined a singles club for a while, she tried internet dating; she tried blind dates with a friend from work without much success. Unless of course you count Graham who was heavily into medieval re-enactment. There’s only so much time you can spend standing in a freezing field dressed in sack cloth and starched white apron, according to Maggs. She’s never had much staying power, right from when we were kids. She’s been pestering me for a while to do this speed dating thing because her mate Stephanie met her fiancé there. It’s on once a month down the Clarion Hall and you don’t have to commit to dating anyone. Apparently it’s a right laugh. What do I want to do that for when I’ve got Brian sat at home, I asked. Exactly, she replied, you’re good at chatting and Brian’s never been one for conversation, has he.
He’s just dumped the spuds in the sink and is sitting at the table reading Motor Cycle News. I wish he wouldn’t, I think it rubs it in but he likes to keep up with what’s happening. Back in the day, when we had matching leathers, he’d get in from work on a hot summer’s evening and suggest a blast on the bike. We’d only be out for half an hour or so but we made sure we’d do the long straight before the curves down through the woods, it was a real adrenalin rush. Better than sex, Brian would say when we got home, sweaty and smelling of Castrol R. I’m not sure that being compared to his Triumph Bonneville was much of a compliment but I knew what he meant.
I wave my painted nails in his face. He looks at them for a mo, across to the sink, back to Kinetic Candy, looks at me, then winks. He gets up to scrub the potatoes. We communicate without words. Maggs doesn’t understand that.
Jenny Pellett is a teaching assistant – the students are her inspiration.