In a Bridlington pub I settled with my Guardian and Gillette Soccer Saturday, knowing I had to make two pints last six hours. Which is no mean feat. Nursing a drink till the froth is dried on the inside of the glass is the pub equivalent of stealth-camping – you’re sitting quiet, hoping not to get noticed, while of course gazing upon the world as it goes by. All fine, except that someone did notice – the barmaid, who bore an exciting resemblance to Bet Lynch.
Her name was in fact Lucy. Somewhere between 50 and 60 and trying to knock ten years off, Lucy was blonde, busty, voluptuous, provocatively-cleavaged in red (not leopard-print) and done up to the nines. Her towering locks were tied up and her ears were pierced with dangly numbers as big as windchimes. In younger days she would’ve been beautiful and though three marriages, six kids, thirteen grandkids and a current torrid, door-slamming relationship with potential hubby number 4 have taken their toll, she still looks good. And I imagine a throng of men loitering at the bar either staring at their pint or more likely her impressive chest. I could be one of them, because I shouldn’t be a bit surprised if I fancied the woman.
I got her story when I went up for my second ale and she commented, not inaccurately or judgmentally, that I was a slow supper. I laughed and corrected that if I had the money I’d be supping quicker and coming back more often. I wasn’t looking for sympathy, just stating fact. But anyway she seemingly felt sorry for me and put this one on the house. If money didn’t change hands then life-stories did. The bar was quiet at this point, early doors, so there was the freedom and privacy conducive to intimacy. She’d noticed I’d been scribbling in my notebook so asked if I were a writer and as I described my project she seemed impressed, so I nervously dropped in that I’m searching human stories and characters and she reminded me of Bet Lynch. She laughed and said she’d had that dozens of times, though in her game you don’t get much time for telly and anyway she’d prefer Eastenders. Fair enough, I said, each to their own.
Lucy didn’t hail from East Yorkshire, she was a Leodensian, a “Wessie” as they call them here (ie someone from West Yorkshire). She hadn’t travelled much, too many kids and and too little money, though some years ago she flirted with the idea of emigrating to Australia with her first husband… but that didn’t happen because he turned out to be a “cock”. As did husbands number 2 and 3, she added.
I could’ve chatted to Lucy for hours but there was football to watch and a crossword to do and the bar was getting busy. And as I sipped my ale and watched my team go down to Everton, I pondered how ephemeral and loveless is this life; you flit from place to place where love is swift arrows. Fleeting meetings and greetings, if you like shit poetry.
By 7pm I’m walking down the prom with my guitar and a bag of chips, thinking that like other places I’ve laid my hat, there’s so much beauty while the town itself is something they forgot to bomb. And I think about Lucy and her cleavage, her windchimes and her door-slamming husband-to-be. I wanted to get to know her more but clearly that was impossible – inviting Tony into my campervan the other day was one thing, but saying to a woman “Would you like to come back to my van?” is a far from impressive chat-up line. And of course she was taken. And of course I shouldn’t assume she fancied me. So as I stealth-camp near Bempton Cliffs I say to myself, “You’re on your own again, cock.”