Halloween. The evening of spooky mischief. I remember Halloween with the kids. Dressing up and slapping on make-up and them eating so many sweets it was a wonder their milk teeth didn’t fall out between houses. I missed them now.
I waited on tenterhooks all afternoon while pricing customers insurance for their posh cars, yachts and houses in the sun. Listening with gritted teeth as they talked about super-charged engines, spacious homes (with pools) and pied-a-terre in south west France. It all seemed rather silly and superficial when Meg was facing a potential health disaster.
Finally, the day was over. It was dark, pouring with rain and I’d forgotten my umbrella.
Pumpkin decorations were up and gangs of friends were roaming roads dressed up as vampires and witches and a few naughty fairies. One older devil gave me a slow wink as I passed and as I looked behind me he said. ‘It was for you!’ Clearly, Halloween had addled his brains.
It was then Meg called, her words tumbling out. She was OK: the breast lump was the same as the harmless one I’d had. Phew!
I stood, drenched by the rain and with relief, and told her I’d been going to buy a new bra but couldn’t face it when she told me about her appointment. She said that was lucky because now there was a 70 percent off sale on Agent Provocateur (*) and to celebrate she’d treated herself to a £140 bra down to £30.
At home, I sprayed cobwebs on the window and in my hair, lit a candle on top of a pumpkin because I couldn’t be bothered to scoop it out and placed bags of assorted gummy sweets by the door. I wore a fetching £1 paper witches cape and some red lipstick. I looked in the mirror and pouted, thinking ‘not bad for an old girl’.
While I waited for the onslaught of sugar-fuelled children I logged on to Agent Provocateur and snapped up a black silk bra with classy cream embroidery, for a mere £25. Roughly double what I’d normally pay but I reminded myself I had saved £100, sort of. I then logged on to my desperate dating website and lo and behold, there was a message!
Jon had contacted me. He was 52 and by the look of him not in a bad state. Not one to take my breath away but with light brown hair, no double chin and blue eyes. He worked in computers (be still my beating heart) and loved cycling. Long distance. Oh, well. Maybe that wouldn’t matter too much. I thought there was certainly more to be positive than negative about, even with my aversion to men in tight Lycra.
I typed a light-hearted message back, missing out some essentials. My children, job, and a penchant for expensive underwear in sales were all swept under the carpet. Along with my preference for a bike with a basket on the front, three gears and on which I could wear normal clothes and no hair-crushing helmet. I briefly mentioned my love for pottery, walking and sea swimming, even in England. I admitted to liking cooking, but not that I watched it on TV rather than actually doing it.
My train of thought was interrupted by skittery door knocking and excited giggling. There, with eager painted faces was a gaggle of small demons and witches, all demanding sticky sweets or else. Knowing this scene would be repeated regularly over the next hour, I poured myself a surreptitious red wine to help me through it.
Suddenly, there was a loud knock on the door. Teenagers, I thought, but instead, there was a little girl, in a black fairy costume. Raising my eyes from the small black fairy I saw her dad. An older dad, with his face badly painted white with dark splotches and dollops of red goo, like some ghastly Black Death patient.
‘I’m really, really sorry,’ he said and was interrupted by his daughter.
‘I need a wee,’ she cut through and stepped forward. I instinctively let her in.
‘She can’t wait, I tried to get her to go in the park but she wasn’t having it,’ he said, following her and looking around as if a toilet would miraculously appear.
‘It’s down there, first on your left, under the stairs,’ I said pointing and putting out a sign on the front door which stated ‘Out of Treats.’ He smelt of something citrusy and musky.
‘I wasn’t going to pull my pants down in the park,’ the toddler stated. It seemed a good enough reason to me.
The father waited outside when a voice piped up, ‘I need help with buttons on my trousers and my pants are wet.’
I swore I heard him gulp as I took a sip of my wine. By the look on his face, he would have liked to be where I was standing.
‘She’s my granddaughter, Bella,’ was all he said as if there was a need to explain that to me. ‘ I don’t think I’m very good at this.’ His shoulders sagged and he looked defeated.
‘Well,’ I said, thinking that even with the crap make-up he must have been a very young dad, ‘You’d better learn to be then’. I flourished a roll of kitchen paper at him and gave him an understanding smile.
He squared his shoulders and went into the fray, dealing with stroppy demands for dry pants and explaining there weren’t any at this nice kind lady’s but they would be home soon.
Eventually, Bella reappeared, with a frown and rather a lot of padding in her badly buttoned up trousers. I gave Bella some gummy sweets and her face melted into a sunbeam.
‘Fank you,’ she said.
‘Yes, thank you,’ said the man. ‘This Halloween lark is hard work’.
As he reached the door he looked back. ‘Weren’t you at the wine bar with your friend the other week?’
I stared at him wondering which particular instance he was referring to. Let’s face it, there were plenty to choose from.
‘You were with a friend, with blond hair and she was waiting for a date. I couldn’t help overhearing.’
So that was it. Tinder Trevor! He was the man behind us, trying not to listen. He smiled and his eyes all crinkled like he wanted to laugh. Bella pulled his hand. I nodded like a marionette. He stepped outside.
‘My name’s Harry,’ he said, his breath steaming in the damp air. ‘And pleased to meet you….?’
‘Gail. I work in insurance.’
Taking Bellas hand, he grinned and left.
‘I work in insurance?’ Seriously? How could I possibly have said that?
I shut the door and pressed my burning head on the icy glass.
* Please note, the Agent Provocateur sale is a fictional device for the purposes of this blog