by Cath Barton
The man came and stood slap bang in front of me, blocking my view of the chef’s demonstration. I moved to the right. So did he. Then to the left. So did he. Ruddy tourist, I thought. Then someone got up from a seat and I slide into it gratefully. The chef was Italian and not too easy to understand, but the food he was cooking looked wonderful. When the finished dishes were moved to the side table I was ready, out of my seat as quick as you could say Mo Farah and there, spoon in hand, ready to taste the ravioli. As I stretched out my hand another spoon scooped up the succulent little dumpling ahead of me. I turned round, furious and somehow knowing it would be him. I glowered, I hissed, I opened my mouth to swear, but he was gone and when I turned back to the dish, so was the rest of the pasta.
“Delicious, wasn’t it,” smiled the woman next to me.
I wanted to tell her she had lipstick on her teeth, but it wasn’t true, and anyway it wouldn’t have helped. It was the ruddy tourist I was going after.
I went and bought a coffee and the stickiest cake I could find. Of a particular type. I sat down, drank the coffee, ate half the cake and thought it through. I definitely knew the town better than he did. I also knew the layout of the Festival better than he would. He was tall and he had red hair. There was no hiding place for him. He also had white trousers on. Bad choice sir, very bad choice when you mess with a woman like me.
I thought the chances were that he would head for the cheese and wine area before it got too busy, but there was no sign of him there. I snaffled a couple of cubes of cheese to strengthen my resolve. Round by the Post Office and along to the Castle. Result! – I could see his red hair in front of me. Once inside the Castle grounds I took a back route he wouldn’t know. It was ridiculously easy to keep him in view now. I checked my bag. Oh yes, it was still there and I was not going to eat it.
I looked at my watch. 12.30. He’d be hungry. He was. I could see that he was tempted by the Thai food wagon, but he was dithering. I didn’t mind, he could dither as long as he wanted, hunger would get him in the end and so would I. He walked back and forth and I followed, but he was tall and easy to spot, while I was short and nondescript. For the first time in my life I was glad of this. I was distracted by someone calling my name. Hell, I thought, why does she have to turn up? I got away from her by saying I was late for a demo and dodged off. The tourist had vanished. How could he vanish?
Then I felt a hand on my shoulder .
“Aren’t you the little lady whose ravioli I snatched?” He was smiling. “Let me buy you some lunch to make up for it?”
I was not going to be deterred. If he wanted to walk right into my trap so be it. I smiled back.
“Thank you”, I said, “You’re a gentleman after all.”
“You bag those two spaces then”, he said, pointing at one of the trestle tables, “and I’ll get the food.”
I couldn’t believe how well this was turning out. Just as he was sitting down I slipped the cake under his buttocks. His white-clad and rather ample buttocks. After lunch, when he stood up to go, the stain from the sticky chocolate was gloriously brown. He held out his hand: “Thank you for your company,” he said.
“The pleasure”, I replied with total sincerity, “is all mine.” And it was, oh, how it was.