I bet you are dizzy and dry-mouthed with anticipation for this. Here we go, another poignant scene from Parma Violet Tea, The Movie (nothing happens, EVER). Our two socially gauche and romantically inept characters are about to have a second attempt at 'connecting'. This time there has been gratuitous self-medicating with cheap gin (Miss Underscore) and romantic 'pep talks' between gruff, monosyllabic burger baron, Senor Boldon and his lothario brother, Rochester. So, dear reader, what could possibly go wrong?
The setting is a bustling bar on a busy Easter evening. It is a warm and golden night. The pub is brimming with holiday good cheer and bare, sun-kissed skin. It could be F Scott Fitzgerald's Cote d'Azur. It is actually Catherine Cookson's South Shields.
The door opens and Miss Underscore enters, she is rather unsteady on her ballet pumps. Senor Boldon is already lurking at the bar. He is clutching a pint so tightly that his knuckles have turned white. He is dressed entirely in black. Of course he is.
SB: Hello. Alright?
(Miss U smiles benevolently, nods and waves.)
SB: You seem different. Is it your hair?
Miss U: Gin. I've had half a bottle already. . . Our last meeting . . . something was missing. I decided (omniscient smile) it was gin.
SB: (grinning) Fuck. I think you'd better sit down. Go and grab that table. I'll get some more drinks.
(Miss Underscore is now seated at a sunny table overlooking a garden. Senor Boldon sits opposite. They are looking at each other and smiling tenderly).
SB: So, tell me, are you still in touch with that other bloke from mismatch.com. The teacher?
Miss U: No, he's not for me.
SB: How do you know, you didn't meet him. (scowling) Did you?
Miss U: No. Punctuation. Too many exclamation marks in his emails. He is so fucking CHEERFUL, I couldn't bear it (shakes head). It would be like dating Keith Chegwin.
(Senor Boldon leans in close and growls)
SB: In all my life no one has ever, EVER accused me of being cheerful.
Miss U: (smiling, whispering) I am SO glad. Misanthropy is such an under-rated quality in a man.
SB: It's fucking odd. All those emails. We've . . .
(Senor Boldon's phone rings)
Miss U: (rolling eyes, dramatically) Don't tell me. A strawberry milkshake flood at the Gateshead branch?
SB: Sorry. (squints at display) No, it's Rochester, hang on. Hello . . . . No, can't really talk. Yes, yes, she's here. (pause). Of course she fucking turned up. (pause) We're in the pub. (pause) I'm hanging up now. (pause) Fuck off. (he hangs up).
Miss U: The emails. . .
SB: Aye, all those emails. We've talked about a lot.
Miss U: Depression.
Miss U: Divorce
Miss U: Infertility and heartbreak (pause). What light-hearted subject shall we tackle next?
SB: (pause, thinking) Hmmm. What IS left?
Miss U: The holocaust?
Close to midnight. Our rather pissed protagonists can be seen entering Senor Boldon's charming, stone cottage. The enter the kitchen.
Miss U: Hmmm. Tea please.
SB: Err. (frowning) I don't have any tea. Well, I have green tea.
Miss U (mortified) Gay tea?
SB: GREEN tea.
Miss U: Gay tea? You drink gay tea?
SB: (exasperated) What the fuck? It's GREEN tea. It's full of antioxidants. . . What have I said? Is that funny? What are you looking at me like that for?
Miss U: No reason.
SB: It LOWERS blood pressure. It RELIEVES stress.
Miss U: (amused) Ah. Ok. I didn't know that.
Miss U: I didn't know that gay tea reduced stress. (nods sincerely) Interesting.
SB: (glaring) Fucking hell. (he peers into an almost empty cupboard) There's green tea with jasmine or green tea with. . .
Miss U: (wickedly delighted) Ha! You drink gay tea with JASMINE?
SB: Christ! What is the problem with green tea?
Miss U: (teasingly) It seems to be an incongruous choice for a man with carpet in the bathroom, that's all.
SB: How do you know what flooring I've got in the bathroom? You've not even fucking well been up there.
Miss U: OK. (pause) Senor Boldon, do you have carpet in the bathroom?
SB: (gruffly) NO!!! For fuck's sake. Do you want some tea or not?
Miss U: (sighing) What was the other option? Gay tea with jasmine or gay tea with . .
(Senor Boldon picks up another box, looks at it and sighs loudly.)
SB: Fucking hell. Just don't start.
Miss U: (innocently) What?
SB: It's green tea with rose petals.
Miss U: I think I'll pass on the tea.
SB: I'll put some music on. Lets go and sit down.
(They retreat to a sitting room. Miss Underscore sits demurely on at one end of an impossibly long sofa. Senor Boldon sits, bolt upright at the other end. He zaps a CD player. Edith Piaf starts caterwauling. No one speaks.)
SB: Do you like Edith Piaf?
Miss U: Well . . . of course. .yes . err (pause), actually, no, not really.
(Senor Boldon zaps the CD player and the music stops. Thank God)
SB: I've got that Nick Cave album somewhere. Your favourite record ever, isn't it? The Boatman's Call.
Miss U (impressed) Have you, I love it. It's so bleak and romantic.
SB: Rochester sent me it. Oddly enough, it's his favourite too. Do you want me to find it?
Miss U: No, it's OK.
(More silence. If emotional subtitles were available at this point Miss Underscore's would read 'For fuck's sake, is he going to make a move? I could be at home watching 6 Feet Under.'
Senor Boldon's would read, 'For fuck's sake, should I make a move? I think I have blown it with the twatting green tea.'
More time passes. The clock on the mantlepiece is ticking loudly.
Miss Underscore courageously kicks off her shoes, scoots up to Senor Boldon's end of the sofa and nestles in to him. He sighs, relaxes and gently strokes her hair.
SB: I'll get some proper tea bags in for you next time, I promise.
Miss U: And milk and sugar?
SB: Fucking typical. Women always want more. Are you staying?
Miss U: No, this is lovely though. I'll stay for a little while longer.
SB: I don't want you to go. (pause). Miss Underscore.
Miss U: (contentedly) Hmmm?
SB: I have got carpet in the bathroom.
Miss U: I know, sweetheart, I know.