Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Immaculate Collection.

Friday, evening, the lobby of the National Portrait Gallery, waiting to see a photographic exhibition, the Vogue one. It's the second Friday in a row I’ve been out with this same group of mates. This is because they're organised, and motivated, and they book stuff. If it wasn’t for them I’d probably just sit on the sofa forever. They write emails suggesting things. I write replies saying yes please, often when I haven’t read the emails all the way through. This lends life a certain Magical Mystery Tour quality which I quite like, but which also means I'm forever hearing, “You haven't read the email, have you, Elizabeth?" and I have to admit that I haven't.

I long ago decided that the best policy with this little group of accomplished, grown-up, metropolitan women, (not including myself: not accomplished, feel fifteen, from the north) is to follow the leader. “When all’s said and done we’re just a troupe of sophisticated monkeys,” I said one time, when a heated discussion was underway on the tube about whether Charing Cross would be better than Leicester Square for the Duke of York Theatre. “No way am I competing with...” (let’s call her A) “... with A, for top monkey position. It’s probably chemical. She’s probably brimming with top monkey hormones that we’re all tapping into subconsciously. I'll just get off the tube wherever she does.” Needless to say, it's this same A who got us these tickets...

“So, it could just be a mistake," says another friend. (She’s also A, so let’s call her B to avoid confusion.) "I’m not sure if he’s doing it on purpose." 

We're having a glass of bucks fizz at the bar, before being called through to the exhibition. B's telling us about one of her neighbours. His bedroom looks on to her kitchen. Lately he’s taken to stripping off in her direct line of vision.

“Call me a cynic, B," I say, "but of course he’s doing it on purpose. It's sweet of you to think he might not be." 

"He could just be uninhibited,” cuts in another friend. Let’s call her C. “You know, some men just take their clothes off and don’t care who sees.”

I think about this. My father is pretty uninhibited, but he’s a sociologist. Come to think of it my mother is pretty uninhibited too, but she was a head teacher, and they live by their own rules. There was this one time she went downstairs completely naked to retrieve the newspaper from the glass front door. The paper boy was just that moment putting it through the letter box. “That’s his Christmas tip sorted,” she said.

And my father... well, when we holidayed in the south of France he drove us for miles along the coast road to the nude beaches to strip off. There was this one he particularly liked, where incidentally they'd filmed the beach scene in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, except without the nude people on it then, obviously (I'm certain there's a joke in there somewhere, maybe do it yourself). I will always remember it, chiefly for the portly naked German men who played beach volley ball there. And I still can't stomach bratwurst. I was only about seventeen. I stubbornly kept my bikini bottoms on the whole time (but not the top obviously because this was the south of France in the 80s and they would probably have arrested me if I hadn't gone topless). Also my parents constantly walked around the house without clothes on, and they would burst in on me when I was undressing, or in the shower. Once my mother declared, when she walked in on me in the bath, “its a tadpole turning into a frog!” Which might go a long way to explain my lack of confidence as a teenager. That and the acne. But I’m digressing wildly.

“I don’t think he’s just being uninhibited,” says B, “because he takes his pants off quite slowly.”

“He what?!” says D, as I spill a not inconsiderable quantity of bucks, and fizz, down my front. (It really cracked me up.) "It's a strip tease!" 

"Argh!" I say. "The very thought of it's turning my stomach. When you're alone?"

"Always when I'm alone," she says. "In the kitchen. He doesn't do it if anyone else is there. He very slowly pulls his pants down."

“Underpants?” I say. “Actual underpants? Not even boxers?”

“Mmm,” she says. “Trousers, then pants, quite baggy, with his back to me.”

“Well, at least that’s a relief,” I say, “as it were. I guess he’s entitled to take his clothes off in his own bedroom from time to time.”

“Mmm,” says B. “The thing is, it's about five or six times, every day.”

“What!” we all say, A, C, D and E, at the exact moment they call us through to see the photographs.

Love E x


P.S. Going to the Chelsea Flower Show with my daddy this evening. I think it's the fourteenth time.

1 comment:

  1. I've just installed iStripper, so I can watch the best virtual strippers on my desktop.