Kate & Amy & Matt

“Write about us!”, said Kate. “Yeah!”, said Amy. Matt was easy and shrugged. Rolled a fag.

My bookshop pals and I were in the pub, lounging around in shabby leather armchairs, the kind that quality establishments now shamelessly wrest from skips to achieve their desired ambience (I pause to picture midnight showdowns at the tip – gastro pub bosses rolling up their cuffs and cracking their knuckles like gangsters, check-trousered sous chefs squaring up to nonchalant Polish bar girls, circling the Lazee-boys and Chesterfields and chintzy pouffes like prey).

We’d been selling books all day; we were tired, our patience was thin, and our fingers were bleeding. (The public are obviously a constant joy, but books are surprisingly violent beasts behind the scenes. It takes years of training to learn how to grapple a stack of Terry Pratchetts into a becoming display, for example. Mischievous little blighters.)

It’s one of the few times in the last few months that I’ve said yes to going for a drink. A drink for drink’s sake – not a meeting, not a rehearsal or photoshoot with a pint worked in, not a gig or a mate’s show, but a drink with friends. For the purpose of just being together, and talking. I’ve turned into something of a dreary girl, and being sociable makes me feel a bit guilty now, like I’m shrugging off ‘work’, like everything will start sliding into disastrous inertia if I take my foot off the gas. (Also, I can’t drink like I used to, and society isn’t as quick to embrace outdoor pyjamas as I’d like.)

So there we were flopped out on ripped leather and setting the world to rights, with that languor that booksellers adopt to hide the fact they are all undiscovered geniuses. I’d just mused out loud that I had to finish up and get home. I had a column to write and it never goes down well with my editor when I write them tipsy. I always witter on about body parts, disgraceful acts, or general weird stuff – and apparently readers don’t like that.

“Write about us!”, said Kate. “Yeah!”, said Amy. Matt was easy and shrugged. Rolled a fag.
“I could do, I suppose.”, I said. It would be better than writing about the mole I accidentally picked off the other day. (I think it’s growing back, but it doesn’t seem happy.)

I stared at my bag hopefully like it might float up and carry me out, and home to my columnist duties. Then I ordered another pint. I was enjoying being there. With Amy and Matt and Kate. Amy who I’ve sold books with since 2006. We sing and dance and do stupid voices and bump each other’s butts. She’s like a sister. Matt, who I’ve known for maybe five years, with whom I have shared surreal meandering silliness, heavy talks of subtle unspoken understandings about a big sad thing we have in common, who helped me move flats, who is always calm and fun and cool. And lovely Kate, a new girl to the shop who has fit in like she’s always been with us. Much younger than us, a recent graduate who dreams of going back on her travels. I used to teach her and her best friend years ago. I love her for her 20s. I want to see her use them and make them shine.

It was nice being there with them, talking, just being. I decided to stay a bit longer. Do my column later, or in the morning.

“Write about us!”, said Kate. “Yeah!”, said Amy. Matt was easy and shrugged. Went out for his fag.

So I did.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Big Bob. says:

    Love the line ‘I can’t drink like I used to’ hells bells you must have been bloody good. Keep them coming SH x

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