Friday, June 28th, 1996
5pm - Skipper holds my hand as we walk down the clattery metal stairs leading to The Pit. This is the bar where tour groups meet the night before they leave London for Europe. It’s lovely thinking that neither of us are here today to meet flocks of tourists. We can chat to any fellow road crew colleague heading out on tour tomorrow or any, like us, who have just come down to see who else is around. We can have a drink, or two, or even three or four, and relax. We aren’t rushing around getting ready to start work tomorrow.
Our plan, after a bit of social intercourse, is to go back to our double room for the other sort (some late ‘afternoon delight’) before we head out for dinner together. This is what having a boyfriend should be all about.
Skipper pushes the door to The Pit open, holding it for me to enter ahead of him… such a gentleman. We join hands again for the short walk from the door to the bar.
There are a couple of Terrific Tours staff, in their distinctive lime green shirts, on the far side of the bar. I can’t make out who they are from this distance. It’s still about 30 minutes until the pre-departure meeting starts, so the place isn’t packed yet. There are a few tourists milling about, they look longingly at the posters of cities in Europe on the walls, which attempt to depict some of the fun they are about to have. Some small groups stand around drinking and chatting.
On the nearest side of the u-shaped bar, a woman sits alone with her back to us. She catches my eye, as she’s adorned in the most stunning shade of emerald green I’ve ever seen, in what looks to be a velvet dress. The late afternoon summer sunlight coming through the window behind her, and us, is illuminating her flaming red hair. The emerald green and the flaming red make a breathtaking combination.
As we get closer, she turns her head slightly to the left to look at something, or to look for someone. Her skin is milky pale and her profile is striking. Below her perfect ski-jump nose, full glossy lips are parted just a little. She looks glowing and relaxed.
Skipper notices her too.
He stops dead in his tracks, pulling me to a stop beside him.
‘What?’ I ask him.
He ignores me.
‘Shona?’ He’s looking at the woman with red hair.
She turns her face towards us when she hears her name.
‘Skipper. Aye, it’s me. I wasnae sure I’d find you,’ she says in a broad Scottish accent. Her luscious lips move into an alluring smile. That alluring smile is directed at MY boyfriend!
My blood runs cold.
What is SHE doing here?
And what does she want with MY boyfriend?
She had her chance with him and she dumped him.
I ready myself for a fight to the death. Perhaps be a little over dramatic, but I AM ready to fight for my boyfriend.
When Shona swivels her bar stool fully around and lowers herself to the floor all the fight is knocked out of me.
Shona, from Scotland, is pregnant.