Sunday, November 21, 2004

Day 19

When I’d first ‘met’ Astrid at the Book Exchange, I’d thought she was a bit off-hand but then again, I didn’t come across many people in that job that were enthusiastic and amiable on a one-off meeting, either whilst purchasing or trying to flog me books. I reminded her of that meeting whilst we were waiting to order at the restaurant.
“I didn’t think much about you after, until I saw you again at the sandwich shop,” she said, honestly, “I did think you had nice eyes though.” Astrid gave me a shy smile. Now I really did want to kiss her. Pause.
“I’ll tell you something embarassing,” eye contact, lower voice, “I didn’t stop thinking about you all day, and I was hoping I’d see you again.” This really didn’t sound like me talking, I’d been so long without a relationship outside my circle of three that I didn’t usually reveal stuff like this so early after meeting someone. Astrid made me want to share everything, in the same way that I do, did, with Marlene. I just hoped I wasn’t being too forward and making her feel uncomfortable. Now it was her turn to pause and look at me, but she also reached over and took my hand.
“That’s so sweet.” Oh bollocks, this is usually the cue for a ‘but’, I thought, “no-one’s ever said that to me before, George.”
“Give over!” I blurted, “you must have had loads of blokes after you.”
“Not really.” Now she did look a little uncomfortable. “I found it hard to meet anyone here. At first my English is not so good, then it seemed like everyone I met was married, or married and not saying, or they were just, what do you say…..wankers!”
“Yeah that’s what I say alright,” I said, smiling, “I suppose in your job, you only get to meet people in false situations anyway, it must be difficult to get to know people properly.”
“Mm, it’s like people are not themselves you know? Like they are trying to impress you all the time. I don’t like this, I like honest people. You are an honest person I think?”
* Lucky people act quickly to take advantage of opportunity when others continue to sit and think of reasons why they should not. How many times have you thought back to a situation and said, "If only I would have"? The "lucky" person did it!

“Most of the time, I try to be. I think if you can be honest in as many situations as possible then you get it back .” And now I’m honestly in danger of telling you I’m in love with you. But then Mario the waiter scooted up to the table, pad in hand and broke the spell.

Later, I sipped my cappucino and waited for Astrid to return from a toilet trip. We’d covered a lot of conversational ground over the anti-pasta, the mains and dessert; our musical likes (Astrid – Hall & Oates, Crowded House, hovering dangerously close to Phil Collins territory), film (Astrid – Nora Ephron-style slushfests, but also modern French cinema, her favourite film was Amelie or as she impressed me by reciting, Le fabuleux destin d’Amelie Poullain, its original full title. We chatted about that for a while, I don’t normally enjoy films so ‘sweet’ but it had affected me somehow, Shuggsy thought I was soft in the head when I bought it on DVD, but then he thought Lost In Translation was ‘fuckin’ bollocks’ as well, the philistine. Anyway, I’d got quite vocal here and probably bored the poor girl with a list of my top twenty films of all time, only three of which she’d seen) and holiday destinations (Astrid – Sorrento and the Amalfi coast, unsurpringly, New York and Iceland. She was horrified that I didn’t own a passport. So am I really, well, not horrified exactly, just a little ashamed when the subject comes up.) When she came back from the toilet she was smiling and sat down, looking like she was dying to tell me something.
“I’ve just been talking to my flat-mate, Natalie.”
“She’s here?” I asked stupidly, with visions of being stalked or Astrid being chaperoned.
“No, silly! She’s at work, at the BBC in Manchester. I’ve told her about you and your interest in films.” She said interest, like she meant obsession, but in a nice way. “She’s working on a production of a new programme at the minute that’s going to be reviewing new DVD’s. But they want real people to do it, not like film critics or TV presenters. There will be a presenter at the start and in between the reviews but mostly it’ll be normal people. And she says they still want to have people come in to audition for the programme.” I must’ve pulled a face because she grabbed my hand again. “No, you have to do it, you’d be perfect! They want people who are passionate about films and know lots of different types, that’s the whole point of it. Anyway, you have to now, because I’ve told Natalie to ring you!”
“It’s not that I don’t think it’s a good idea, it’s just that I don’t think I’ll be good on TV, I come across like a nerd,” I said.
“Well, you might not be on, it’s just a test programme at the moment to see how it goes, a what do you call it, like a trial?”
“A pilot?”
“Yes, a pilot. Please George, for me, you’ll be great I promise.”
“OK then, but only if you go with me, I’m not great in situations like that, I’ll probably get there then change my mind and run away.”
“Of course I will, I’ll stand outside and make sure you can’t leave,” she said, “and I’ll make sure Natalie knows all about you before you go.”
“Do you think that’s a good idea, she’ll be put off before I even get there!”
“Don’t be ridiculous, I’ll only say good things,” she gave me that shy, downward eyes smile again, no not like Princess Di either. I felt my stomach go tight, and it wasn’t the pasta. “If I can’t say nice things about my boyfriend who can I?” Then she did lean across and kiss me and I went officially doolally.

* Lucky people believe 100% that they deserve everything they get.

I was starting to believe in Be Lucky! now, and that was going to be my downfall. But ask me if would care at that moment.

Word Count: 1,091


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