One of those weeks. An interesting woman emails me. She’s been reading my Mary Hayden books, and is enthralled. In truth she seems a bit obsessed, following Mary Hayden around the city, bringing flowers to her grave. But she seems nice and lovely and intelligent, and we josh and joke and flirt on the internet together. Well, I do the flirting and she does...whatever she does. She won't tell me her age but she does tell me she's not married. I spend some time analysing the connections between her sharing and/or not sharing those revelations. Anyway after a few days of joshing and joking and and all that on the internet together I know her better than people I’ve known all my life, better than women I’ve slept with. But that’s the internet for you. It's the psychological equivalent of those security machines at airports that ignore your clothes and examine the inner you.
And then another virtual person arrives in my inbox.. A man, he’s read my book A Walk on The Southside, and tells me that long years ago I stole the woman on the cover from him. I don’t know him from a hole in the ground. But he sounds a very agreeable chap. If a bit miffed about me stealing his woman. I mention this matter to the woman I stole from him. Yes, she agrees, she remembers him. But the conversation does not get much further than that. The stolen woman and I go to the Lacken Races.
We sit in the sun, watching the horses, backing them, losing money. We don't actually have that much money left to lose because we've just paid €8 each to get on the beach. Are they mad? Is it any wonder? And all that.
I take a photograph of the stolen woman. This photo. That dot in the far distance is the horse we backed, still running. And don't be fooled, oh foreign distant readers. That blue sky is not common in this part of the world. It is a rare day. So I take another photo of the stolen woman. That photo.
It's a good day out there. No-one is worrying about double dip recessions. Everyone's having a good time. We are having a good time. It’s like being on a date. We eat ice creams. Hot dogs. Chips. Yes, I know how to show my dates a good time. In the evening we drive back home and at the door I pause, my key in the lock and I say “would you like to come in for coffee?” She smiles enigmatically. We have shared a bed for thousands of nights. But the next one is always up for negotiation.
We cook a meal and eat the meal and watch the television. The meal was a piece of lamb from Tesco but in all honesty the television might have tasted better. We drank vodka, beer and wine. Not all in the same glass, but in the same process. And lest that sounds a bit Irish Alcoholic Writer and his poor demented wife driven to alcohol, best mention I don't drink vodka and she doesn't drink beer. But we both do drink wine. Yes, that still sounds bad, units wise. So best move along.
There’s something about the Monte Carlo Grand Prix on the news. She tells me she remembers when she was sixteen in the South of France and the Monte Carlo Grand Prix was on. The anecdote concerns her being lost and wandering into a sleazey bar for directions and advice. Let's hope she didn't follow either.
The TV news moves on from motor sport to wars and atrocities general. (It's a Sunday and they put the light stuff first.) I look at the wars and atrocities general and think, look back, remember where I was when she was sixteen in France. I was in Africa. There was a war going on around me. And atrocities just up the road. It wasn’t my war. But it could’ve killed me nonetheless. I was there and she was there.
But I didn’t end up being killed in someone else’s war. And she didn’t end up being lost in France. We ended up together.We had five children and went to the races on Lacken Strand. And came home. Together. A good day.