About half way through ‘Is There Something I should Know?’ by David Best
It is December 1981, Twenty something English teacher Stephen Trulove has been invited to a party at the home of one his colleagues and feels, not for the first time, out of sorts, socially. Now read on…..
‘Have you had a chance to meet my daughter? She’s around somewhere. I’ll introduce you.’
‘I’ve sort of been intro…’
But she was off, having caught sight of someone more important in the corner of her eye. I returned to the groaning table and had merry chats with the English department. After a few more of the funny punch type stuffs we had had enough Dutch courage to venture out into other rooms and to talk to more honoured guests than ourselves.
‘You must be Stephen.’
A gregarious fellow took my hand, crushed it and gave back the remains and introduced himself as Giles, the master of the house. Despite the serious hand assault that I had been subjected to, I rather warmed to mine host not least because he seemed to be a bit pissed. Maybe that was a host’s privilege or maybe it was the only way he could get through life avec Pam.
‘You must meet my daughter. She’s around somewhere..’
(What was this? Some sort of North Cheshire dating agency?)
‘I’m afraid she finds this sort of thing all a bit tedious you see. It’ll be good for her to have some other young people to talk to’
‘Ah.’ (I couldn’t think of anything pithy to say, being a bit pithed and everything.) ‘I’ll look out for her then.’
We were now in a capacious dining room with worthy looking pictures on the wall with those little light things positioned just above them to enhance viewing. I asked why one of the paintings, an ancient small study of an ancient small female, didn’t have a light thing.
‘That’s because it’s very old. It’s been in my family for ever. Some old bat that was one of my ancestors. The insurance premium on this painting alone is daylight robbery. To tell you the truth I hate it and I’m not that fond of the other dreary pictures. Pam thinks they give the place class though and she should know.’
(No, she shouldn’t)
He tapped the offending daub and two little bits of paint fell off it, thus lowering the value of the near priceless item. Nobody else in the room seemed to have noticed.
‘That should bring your insurance premium down a bit’ I quipped.
He tapped the side of his nose conspiratorially, picked up the two flakes of paint, pocketed them and said..
‘Don’t tell Pam. With a bit of luck she’ll never notice anyway.’
‘Come and see my games room’ he commanded.
Two minutes later we were in the cellar in a well heeled, well lit room the same size as the kitchen. It had two pinball machines to one side and a dart board and other bits and bobs. Dominating the central area was a standard size snooker table with all the works. I fully expected a sober suited little bald bloke with white gloves to appear from somewhere and position the balls.
Giles was obviously expecting me to coo appropriately, which I did.
‘Flat bed Welsh slate’ he explained.
I nodded appreciatively, as if ‘Flat bed Welsh Slate’ meant something.
He then crouched down and went eye level to the immaculate playing surface. Thinking that this is what is done in these circumstances I crouched too and looked in the same direction. Bugger knows what I was supposed to be admiring. Then we were standing up again and I followed the action of the stroking of the playing surface with the palm of my hand. Obviously, I was supposed to be admiring something here as well.
‘Top quality green baize surface’ he said, as if quoting out of a catalogue ‘means minimum friction’
‘Right’ I had no idea what he was talking about.
‘Terrible to clean, mind. Look over there. Top corner, left. Spilled a little whisky last back end. Devil to get out. Had to have a man in. Still couldn’t completely shift it’
I’m sure if I knew where ‘Top corner, left’ was I would have spotted this stain. I pretended to spot this blight on perfection and went..
‘Fancy a go?’
I declined the invitation, knowing that would be the way to embarrassment and disaster.
‘Fine. Allow me to demonstrate, though’
He grabbed an expensive cue from an expensive rack stand thing and went through the process of whacking the balls across the table with aplomb. I didn’t really follow what he did but it looked impressive so I semi-applauded.
‘Ooh’ I said ‘ It looks like I might need another drink’
‘Right. Let’s go. Meet you down here later though.’
I went back upstairs and refilled my glass with funny punch type stuff. At this point I also realised that I was ravenous. I devoured two platefuls of food that I had never even heard of, never mind tasted before. I commented to a forty-something lady with strange hair as we ate alongside one of the groaning tables, that Pam must be a dab hand in the kitchen.
‘She’s a dab hand at picking up the phone and ordering caterers to do it for her’ she replied not without a modicum of venom
‘Is There Something I Should Know?’ is available on Kindle at the bargain price of £2.01 from Amazon etc