He was saying, 'And another thing women do is rant about men being able to control their animal urges.'
'Who's he by the fire?' I whispered to Sophie.
We were in the Dolphin, Thorpeness, at the start of the Christmas holidays. I was on holiday from my full time teaching job at the Guildford School of Acting. Sophie was on holiday from daddy's Platinum Card. We were the only two in the reasonably crowded pub not dressed for a shoot. Apart, that is, from Gerard Simpson and his entourage.
Gerard, lolling on a settle before the open fire, had the face of a Botticelli angel, a come back to bed Eton mane; and beneath a lilac cardigan his pecs were giving an exacting stretch-test to a t-shirt saying: Rupe's Gym. Take the guilt off all that gingerbread, Fat Boy! He was surrounded by Clapham Common girls wearing what could have been strippers' nightwear and Uggs; with that hair - grown long and left matted, making my fingers itch (ho ho!) for a nit-comb.
'I may not be able to control my animal urges - needing to spill my seed like a hose you can't manage to get your foot on, apparently, how clever - but what about yours, oh woman? Katie, this forty-something I have on the go at the moment; always trying to convince me not to wrap it before I tap it so she can have a child. Saying it won't be about me, that I wouldn't have to be involved in it in any way. LIke I'm artificial insemination prettily packaged. I have a psyche. Has not a junior-god eyes? Has not a junior-god hands? if you prick us, do we - '
One of the Clapham Common girls had giggled at the word prick.
'Talking of things to control, sweets,' Gerard said, studying the heel of his left shoe. 'Anyway, Katie. In June - coincidentally, right at the beginning of the wedding season - I refused to go to any of her mates' weddings with her. Did agree a couple of times to laugh at the photos on her i-phone afterward. But made clear that was the old thin end of the wedge...'
'Good for you, Gerard,' one of the Clapham Common girls said; not the one who had giggled. The others turned to look at her like cows at a calf that has fallen down in the shed yet again. Gerard was once more finding his left heel riveting.
'So, in June, Katie laid on a weekend for us at this place Moreton-in-Marsh. She only works in events PR, otherwise it might have been Avington or somewhere. And I was about to make it the home run just when we'd first got there - it's her insistence on sex straight away, not mine: I quite like to at least wait for the luggage-wallah to leave the room - and she starting holding onto the top of the condom, trying to make it slip off as I slipped out. "Can we watch our talons on my glans, sweetheart?" I asked, over the sound of her ecstatic panting. Had to prize her fingers off, maybe a bit roughly. She breaks down crying. Whines about her how body-clock tick-tocking away. I tell her straight: if she doesn't want to put an end to the mini-break there and then to stick her body-clock out of earshot in the drawer with the old Gideon's. And I warn her that I'm going to be subjecting subsequent condoms to a thorough water-balloon test. I find she's clammed up so tightly now, I'm at risk of nutcrackerage up there. So I call a taxi, leave her - '
'Gerard, get up at once!'
An elderly woman was glaring down at him over the side of the settle. She had an immaculate, shingled blue-rinse, and was wearing the Chanel pink and black cashmere sweater-set with a single string of pearls.
'Who's that?' I asked Sophie, watching Gerard roll upright off the settle.
'His granny. Lady Simpson. Has this thing where she - '
'And now, Gerard,' said his granny, 'spell: Despicable, obnoxious and vulgarian!'
Sophie was nodding. 'That's her thing.'