“Money might make you wealthy, but friends make you rich.” Anon
Dumped again. The wheels of the plane leave the tarmac and my poor heart contracts.
Always saying goodbye in this phony expat life of mine. A well-travelled life that left me stranded on the shores of the Kingdom of Denmark, until one day a bright-eyed girl from the Mid-West said,
‘Say, do ya know where I could find some product for controlling my hair?’
Her hair was all frizzed-up as she pulled her cycling helmet off, it was a wet day in November. She looked like Susie Quatro after a hard night rocking. The other well-groomed expat moms laughed politely at her anecdotes, but I looked, laughed and listened, then decided to send her Christmas cards for the rest of my life.
That was eleven years ago.
Six years ago Lynell moved to England with her family, and I remained sadly casting stones across the Baltic Sea. They came to visit me in my English hometown on one of my infrequent visits with my kids; my parents live in a tiny 350 year old Hobbit-like house, so no space for them there. Without my knowing, Lynell booked into the most grotty bed and breakfast accommodation that the small country town had to offer. An understandable mistake, considering all the other over-priced options for a family of five. I tried to undo the damage, and padded around town inquiring if there was space for my friends.
‘Not a sausage! Sorry darling, you’re too late. You could try the Riverside Inn, but it’s only if your friends are really desperate.’ Explained the plump middle-aged landlady, who resembled a young schoolgirl that I knew in 1982.
Down by the Riverside all was peculiar.
Our combined children dashed about in the shallows of the clear river. We bought them sugary drinks and snacks, and then encouraged them to burn it off on the swings while we drank a few pints of local cider.
The inside of the bar was cheaply varnished pine, split vinyl seating and a sticky floor. Nobody else was there, apart for some young teenagers on mopeds, smoking cigarettes in the sunshine.
‘Allo, ‘ow can I ‘elp you.’ Gasped the landlord. He was part cigarette, part raddled liver, part dead.
‘Oh, bugger him,’ screeched the wizened landlady – all bleeding lipstick, a thick smear of make-up and perfumed with toilet freshener and halitosis. She leaned conspiratorially over the bar, bared her yellow fangs and whispered loudly to us,
‘That’s my old man, he’s not got long.’
Then, shaking her head sagely, proceeded to serve herself a measure of Famous Grouse.
‘We’re on the road to nowhere here darling,’ she confided to gentle, caring Lynell. Then,
‘Cheers! I ‘ope you ‘ave a lovely time ‘ere. It’s not of’en that we get Yanks in ‘ere these days.
Lynell raised her glass, winked and mouthed,
What happens when the landlord’s daughter comes into the bar wearing a python? What fly flavoured coffee tastes like and close encounters of a third kind!