Pinch, punch, first day of the month and all that shit.

December is off to a good start. I’ve been looking forward to today’s ‘wine-tasting adventure’ for ages. OK, so it’s another coach trip where Bev and Rachel sit together as I ride behind them trying to join in, but at least this time there’s booze involved. I’ve forgotten what a decent pinot tastes like. If it’s not served in a cardboard cube on a two-for-one offer I’ve not even bothered recently.

“Inebriation is so in right now,” I told Bev. “I’m going to neck all the freebies and get totally discombobulated. The kidneys are evil and must be punished!”

She grinned enthusiastically. “I have no idea what you’re saying, so I’m smiling and nodding!”

None of us will be doing any of that swill-and-spit sampling malarky, of course. That’s one of the few things we do have in common. We swallow


I’ve been stuck with a right cockwomble all day.

Florence-Elizabeth Butterfield, a young cardigan-and-Croc wearing spinster-in-the-making, strutted onto the coach this morning like she owned it. She pushed my bag, deliberately placed next to me to avoid having to make pleasantries with a stranger, onto the floor and plonked herself down without an apology.

“Do you mind?” I snapped.

She’d looked me up and down slowly. “No,” she replied. “I don’t think I do.”

I was immediately infuriated.

For most of the morning, she quizzed me about what it was like to be gay. I’d come out to her after she’d pointed at a particularly handsome passenger and asked if I thought he was ‘a queer’.

“I can only wish,” I told her, in the hopes it would embarrass her into being quiet. No such luck. In fact, it had only made her talk more.

“Oh you’re one, are you? How terribly modern.” She patted my arm in mock-sympathy. “Apparently, it’s because you had no strong male figure in your life growing up.” She sniffed dismissively. “Your mum must have been very disappointed.”

“Excuse me?” I was surprised more than furious.

There was a burst of fury in front of me and Rachel’s face immediately appeared between the seats. “Wow, pipe the fuck down, Princess,” she said to my neighbour. “That’s MY gay you’re talking to.”

“Yeah!” Bev’s face appeared around the side of the seat. “And FYI, Kev’s mum is delighted he’s a homo. It means she’ll always be the most important woman in his life.” She looked to me, “She did actually tell me that once.”

“Well,” Florence began, adjusting her cardigan on her lap, “I once read that -”

“And he ain’t gay cos of having no strong male figure as a kid.” Rachel continued. “He’s gay cos he wants a strong male figure up his arse! Ain’t that right Kev.” Rachel turned and settled back down. “Stupid bitch,” she added from behind the seat.

Feeling myself burning in embarrasment, but happy the girls defended me, I said, “Got that?” in the most confident voice I could, then settled against the window and pretended to go to sleep.

Florence-Elizabeth, or ‘Fliz’ as she hates me calling her, is as pretentious as her name suggests. Burdened with a Roman nose that’s more Roman Empire in size (all the better for looking down at you from), she has an arrogant streak as wide as her jutting incisors and a nasal voice that is the vocal equivalent of a strobe-light to an epileptic. Hearing it makes my eye twitch. Vocal, opinionated, close-minded, she is the only person I’ve ever met who I’ve instantly disliked.

Worse, she followed me around all day, and when Bev and Rachel were out of ear-shot, she started picking on them too.

“Do you think those are skinny jeans, or are her legs just fat?” she said of Bev.

“Do you think that hair-style is actually intentional?” she giggled about Rachel.

“Do you think you could shut the fuck up about my friends?” I asked, feeling surprisingly defensive. Only I could moan about them.

She’d looked at me with wide-eyes and fluttering eye-lashes. “What? I’m only being honest!”

I hate that. People who confuse being mean-spirited and insecure with ‘being honest’. Grow the fuck up and quit being a douche-bag.

As a straight single female, she obviously felt qualified to tell me how gay marriage was a bad idea, and seemed disappointed when I didn’t bite. It’s like she gets off on confrontation. Perhaps surprisingly, it’s not a subject I’m particularly fussed about. Marriages don’t work in my family anyway, they’ve been ending prematurely for generations. Besides, a piece of paper really shouldn’t make a difference if you love each other, right? But I recognise the importance of equality, and it’s nice to have the option if I ever want it, so I calmly asked her to explain her reasonings. Just why do two guys or girls getting hitched offend her in any way?

She sniffed dismissively. “It’s icky.”

“Seriously? That’s your argument? You should be a lawyer.”

“I’m allowed an opinion. You should try to see things from other people’s perspective once in a while.”

I gave her my best stink-eye. “I can’t see anything from that particular perspective, because I can’t get my head that far up my arse.”

She wasn’t even a little offended. In fact, she giggled.

“Well, you’re a feisty little fairy.”

I’d stared at her, open-mouthed. “Fairy? Do you see me packing wings and waving a fucking wand?”

Now THAT pissed me off. My friends can call me that, maybe even Rach, but Fliz hadn’t clocked up enough buddy-time. Despite this, when we finally returned to the hostel, and Bev and Rachel went straight to bed, who else did I have to join me if I wanted a night out? Naturally she agreed, probably sensing that the idea of her company made me miserable, and before long we were grabbing a tram into town.

“Are you seriously planning on wearing those out?” I asked, pointing at her feet.

“What’s wrong with my Crocs? They’re comfy!”

“I can see all your self-respect leaking out of the toe-holes.”

She’d frowned at that. “Say, you’ll know the answer to this, Kev. Why do fat people always think they’re funny?”

I rolled my eyes. “Fuck all the way off, Fliz.”

She took my arm and laughed. “So, where are we going?”

“I know the perfect place.”

I took her to Strikes, where I knew she’d have to change her hideous footwear.

Two games of ultra-violet bowling later and we’d finished all our smuggled in wine and were onto the cocktails. By the end of the night, rather surprisingly, we found ourselves slow-dancing down one of the lanes to an old Celine Dion song.

“I’m sorry I slagged off your shoes,” I whispered in her ear. “I thought you already knew how shit they were.”

They say keep your enemies close? Well, I couldn’t have been any closer to this one without penetrating the bitch.

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