Let us move forward to the third date between our unlikely couple: grumpy fast food magnate, Senor Boldon and sweet but cynical primary school teacher, Miss Underscore. In this scene, something will indeed **embarrassed cough** happen. Although, in the spirit of historical accuracy, I must confess, I cannot be entirely sure how many times it did happen that night. The memories are tangled my the creeping tendrils of time. Your shy, Church of England, cardigan-loving author is too genteel to share many details of the night's 'happening'. She is indeed a girl who sends the dogs out of the room when watching a certificate 15 film. She even refrains from ordering 99 cornets from the ice cream van, as she has an unrelenting belief that one day she will get the order wrong, and request a 69 from the white-coated purveyor of frozen delights.
If you recall, the previous last 'date' was a success, the tenderness between the two protagonists was not dampened by relentless green tea teasing, nor Edith Piaf caterwauling. For date 3 we move to Miss Underscore's home, a ramshakle 1920s cottage resplendent with coal fires, stained glass windows, subsidence and damp. It is a a warm, spring evening. Miss Underscore is sat in the dappled shade of an apple tree in the back garden. Lying at her feet are two dogs, a very elderly, deaf dalmatian (Kipper) and a rather more sprightly looking bearded collie (Boo). A car horn sounds. Senor Boldon has arrived.
Miss U (rushes to front door): Hola Senor.
(They hug tenderly)
SB: (worriedly) Do you think my car will be alright on the street? It looks a bit rough round here.
Miss U: Hmmm, that IS a worry. (adopts a serious face) Only last week the police were called to deal with a suspicious, out-of-place looking item that had been placed on a friend's car.
SB: Really. Fucking hell. What was it?
Miss U: A tax disc.
SB: (not laughing) Hmmm. Funny.
Miss U: I am sure your darling Lexus will be fine.
(SB wrestles an enormous overnight bag into the hall; they move into the kitchen.)
Miss U: Christ. You're not moving in, are you?
SB: (defensively) No, just some stuff I need. Anyway, I've brought something special. (he waves a CD at Miss Underscore) I was listening to it on the way over. It's a Nick Cave track. Whenever I hear it, I immediately think of you.
Miss U (trying to hide her utter delight) Really? Awww, I am rather touched, Senor. Is it from the Boatman's Call? Those songs are so passionate and intense.
SB: Err it's not, as it happens (uncertain now, regretting mentioning it). It was really the title of the song that spoke your name to me. Anyway (backpedaling) it's not important. (He reaches down to stoke the dogs curiously snuffling around him) Hello dogs.
Miss U: Aww, go on, you have to tell me now. . . what's the song?
SB: (smirking somewhat) Well, it's called Death is Not the End. It's cos I've never met anyone as dark and morbid as you.
Miss U: (rather crestfallen) Oh. (silence) So what exactly have you got in that bag?
SB: Well, clothes and stuff. Wine, beer, tea, coffee. . .
Miss U: You're spending ONE night in Sunderland, you know. Both tea and coffee have been freely available here for at least the last 18 months, (picking up packet of green tea) although, this may well be the first sighting of Gay tea around these parts.
(Senor Boldon is unloading items from his bag. He pulls out some toothpaste. Miss Underscore takes it from him).
Miss U: And what mysterious snake-oil is this? (Reads slowly) Tooth- paste? Tooth paste? Now that IS something new to Sunderland.
SB: (smiling) Fuck off. I just like my own things around me. I'm going to have a beer.
(Miss Underscore and Senor Boldon go through to the sitting room, drinks in hand, and curl up on the sofa. There is unmistakable 'canoodling'.)
SB: This feels good. That is a rather fat dalmatian, you know.
Miss U: Is that a euphemism for where you have your hands, or are you talking about Kipper?
SB: (smiling) I was talking about the dog.
Miss U: Well, he does have a few unresolved body issues, but he is 12, you know. And crippled. How was your work night out?
SB: (groaning) Aw, I did go, but it's not my thing really. I fucked off home after about half an hour, when they weren't looking. They probably didn't even notice.
Miss U: (laughing) I think you're even more unsocial than me. I didn't think there was anyone alive more unsocial than me. Other than nuns. (pause). And prisoners on death row.
SB: Nuns are all lezzas anyway. Listen, I'm going out to my place in Spain next week. You're starting at that Durham school on Monday anyway, aren't you?
Miss U: Hmmm. I am. I've got an 8 week placement.
SB: I can remember my mother training to be a teacher, after my cunt of a dad fucked off. Piles of books all over the place. She would work at the kitchen table late into the night.
Miss U: It must have been a hard life, with 3 young boys to look after.
SB: Suppose. No harder than for your dad, after your mum died. I think Rochester's coming out to Spain. He says he is. I hope he is, but you never know with him.
Miss U: You seem very close to him. What does he do, apart from rampant fanny ratting?
SB: Not sure what he does, some sort of social work involving lesbians I think. I've got it in my mind that he TRAINS lesbians, but that doesn't sound quite right. We are close. Very.
Miss U: A lothario social worker? Seems a bit incongruous. Rumpled cords and misshapen oatmeal jumpers aren't your usual gigolo apparel.
SB: (smiling) I think you'd like him really. He's quite dry. Here, I've got a picture of me and him together on my phone.
(Miss Underscore inspects the phone closely.)
Miss U: You look nothing alike! He's rather tall and dark. You're (looking pointedly at Senor Boldon). . . . . . . . NOT. He does look like a bit of a rogue, mind. A swarthy rogue. As my Aunty Margaret would say, 'I wouldn't trust him with a bonny dog.'
SB: Aye. She's probably right. Enough about him, Miss Underscore. You know, I've been thinking about you all day.
(More gentle canoodling whilst the dogs snore on the hearth rug)
SB: It's nice here, peaceful. I like this house, it suits you. (more canoodling) Let's talk about tonight.
Miss U: What about tonight?
SB: Well, I was thinking about what kind of things we'll be exploring when we go upstairs. What kind of things you're into. . .
Miss U: Ahhhh. . .
(The gentle eroticism of the moment is splintered by the wailing of a car alarm.)
SB: (growling ) Cunting hell. The Lexus. Jesus Christ. I'll be right back.
(Senor Boldon stalks furiously out of the room, then returns).
Miss U: Everything alright?
SB: Aye, it was a car up the street. Brand new Lexus here but it's a fucking 20 year old Ford Fiesta they've gone for. People in Sunderland are mentals. Fact.
Miss U: (curled on sofa, sipping gin). Aww, Senor Boldon, are your feelings hurt? Fret not, I'm sure by dawn your car will either be festooned with toilet paper or propped up on bricks. (patting sofa) Shouldn't you be here, stroking my hair?
SB: (reaching out hand) No. Come on, let's go upstairs Miss Underscore. I think the time has come, don't you?