Later that night Miss Underscore and Rochester are canoodling in a bed the size of a small island in Rochester's luxurious hotel suite.
Miss U: I can’t get over this suite Rochester. I feel like Sue Ellen in Dallas.
Rochester: Does that make me JR?
Miss U: Dallas would have been great set in the North East. Can you imagine? The Ewings could have made their fortune with coal rather than oil. There could have been an annual Coal Barons' Ball.
Rochester: Serving brown ale and pickled eggs.
Miss U: Arthur Scargill as the wispy-haired, blundering, embittered drunk Cliff Barnes.
Rochester: Aye. This room is a million miles away from the pig sty, isn't it? Our last night together.
Miss U: (pointing) I am not sure about having a roll-top bath in the middle of a room though. Especially when it is in front of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Tyne. And the hotel car park.
Rochester: Probably gives tourists a more thrilling vista than anything in the Baltic. Why don’t you hop in the bath over there Miss Underscore? Give us all a thrill.
Miss U: (sighing) Too comfortable here Rochester. Do you not like the Baltic? I thought you wanky Bristol sorts would love a bit of modern art. I am sure on the mantelpiece of Peg Towers you’ve got a used crack pipe, festooned with crime scene tape set on top of an empty Findus Crispy Pancake packet, communicating the random barbarism of life in a godless universe. Oh, and a couple of hard boiled, battery-farmed eggs in formaldehyde framed above your water-bed, representing the emotional castration of men in these gender confused times.
Rochester: Nah, totally wrong pet. I’ve got my Golden Peg award on my mantelpiece, for being the region’s top performing peg salesman.
Miss U: Seriously? Oh dear God. What does it look like?
Rochester: Well, it’s like an Oscar really. It’s a golden figure of a man wrangling a UPVC window out of the back of a BMW.
Miss U: I am nauseated at the thought of your fanny wagon, you know.
Rochester: You say that, but you’d fucking love it really. You know you would.
Miss U: I HATE BMWs. Brash, boorish middle-aged men drive them. (Miss Underscore looks accusingly at Rochester) How come they cost, like, £30,000 but don't even come with indicators.
Rochester: They’ve got indicators. What are you talking about?
Miss U: NO BMW DRIVER EVER USES THEIR INDICATORS!!! Also, have you seen that INFURIATING new BMW advert about how they don't make cars, they manufacture ‘joy’? Surely that is not very ‘you’? You’re a surly, death-obsessed misanthrope.
Rochester: I’ve told you before, the fanny wagon was Don’s choice. It's out of my hands really. What would you suggest I drive? You’re going to say a cunting Volvo aren’t you? I am NOT driving a Volvo.
Miss U: A Volvo is the perfect choice for a world-weary, mortality-obsessed salesman. The brand is much more in tune with your core values. It’s a much better fit than BMW and their ridiculously jolly ‘joy’ concept.
Rochester: (wearily) Howay then, enlighten me.
Miss U: It’s the whole Swedish thing. Those suicidal Swedes, they love wallowing in murky gloom and nihilistic despair. With a Volvo all the accessories you need to gas yourself in your garage are fitted AS STANDARD. And you get a free Sylvia Plath anthology with every purchase. With a BMW you just get a cup holder for your Starbucks Americano, an air-con system that sprays Hai Karate aftershave and a free Dad Rocks! CD.
Rochester: I am not buying a Volvo. Anyway, you don’t even have a Volvo. You have a shitty cunting Ford Focus!
Miss U: (sulkily) I would have a Volvo if I could afford it. (Pause) You could put a dog-guard up at the back.
Rochester: (exasperated) I haven't got a fucking dog!
Miss U: You don’t need a dog! That is the beauty of it. A Volvo with a dog guard, and maybe a RSPCA bumper sticker, would be so reassuring to potential customers. It says 'I may be a tawdry salesman, but I am a caring and trustworthy sort. I would jump in a polluted canal to rescue a sack of drowning puppies. Your conservatory is safe in my hands.'
Rochester: I'm not sure I would jump in a polluted canal petal. What type of puppies are we talking about here? I wouldn't do it for lurchers. They're ten a penny. I quite like a weimaraner though. Don't look at me like that. I'm only messing pet.
Miss U: Well, I would totally buy windows from a man in a Volvo with a dog guard. I would NEVER buy from a be-cufflinked cad in a kraut fanny wagon. Don would crash and burn with me.
Rochester: You are SO WRONG flower. You would wet your white cotton knickers if Don tried to sell to you. You’d be handing over a cheque to him within 20 minutes. 30 minutes tops. Seriously. He’s good. A fucking twat. But good.
Miss U: (resolutely) No way. His sort would get NOWHERE with me.
Rochester: Is that right? I think the bedroom activities of the last hour or so have just proven that statement to be utterly false. But let's put this to the test. (Sitting up) Right Miss Underscore, shall we do some role-play? Howay, sit up. Don is going to sell you some windows.
Miss U: I am not averse to a bit of role-play in the bedroom Rochester, but does it have to involve double glazing? It’s not a scenario that does much for me.
Rochester: Aye, you’re probably right. (Pause, lying back down) Christ. In bed with Miss Underscore. Cunting hell.
Miss U: (getting up, putting on cardigan and walking to the window) It’s snowing again. It is so beautiful out there: the lights, the bridges, the river. It’s completely silent. I love the silence of a snowy winter's night. It's magical. This room is bigger than my house.
Rochester: Come back to bed flower.
Miss U: (climbing back into bed) This is the most comfortable bed I have ever not slept in. I am not even missing my electric blanket. Have you been visiting the family today?
Rochester: Aye. Saw my granny in the hospice. Went with your ex actually, Senor Boldon.
Miss U: How is your granny doing?
Rochester: Still alive, incredibly. Deaf as a post mind. I had to write her little notes to communicate with her. I wrote her one saying ‘Just thought you might like to know, Senor Boldon is a puff. Don’t let on though. He is still coming to terms with it himself.’ She thought it was fucking hysterical.
Miss U: Ha! Dear God.
Rochester: She’s still pretty fearsome mind. In a battle between her and your Aunty Margaret, my money would be on my granny.
Miss U: Dear God, it’s like picturing a fight between Godzilla and King Kong, only with shopping trolleys and knitting needles. And witheringly disapproving glares. And scornfully pursed lips. Your granny probably would win. Aunty Margaret is marshmallow soft really. She's a sensitive soul under all those prickles.
Rochester:. More family stuff tomorrow. Out for drinks with Senor Boldon tomorrow night. I may come over to your place afterwards, if that’s OK. I’d like to, it'll be my last night up North. I’m probably going to be pissed though, and it will be very late.
Miss U: Does Senor Boldon know about us. . . about this?
Rochester: Does he fuck.
Miss U: That’s because this is wrong, isn’t it?
Rochester: It doesn’t feel wrong though. It just feels incredibly natural.
Miss U: (sighing) I know.
Rochester: I tell you what. I’d have been devastated if you hadn’t wanted to meet up.
Miss U: Aww, Rochester, that is almost a compliment, are you feeling OK? That’s a sweet thing to say. It's so unlike you.
Rochester: Aye, devastated. Honestly, if I hadn’t got to see your big arse and breasts again it would have ruined my Christmas.
Miss U: Oh fuck. You had to spoil it, didn’t you?
Rochester: Not at all! It IS a compliment! You do it for me pet. That’s the point I’m making. Oh fuck, will you be writing about this on your blog?
Miss U: Of course! I’ve even thought of the PERFECT title for my next post. How about ‘Of Lice and Men’?
Rochester: Cunting hell! You think you’re so fucking funny, don’t you?
Miss U: Or, if you make any more quips about my arse it could well be The Death of a Salesman. You don’t mind featuring in my blog do you?
Rochester: You know what petal, I think I come across quite well. Rochester is quite a charming character really. You make me sound too Geordie though. I'm really more of a David Niven type.
Miss U: Hardly! I think I capture you remarkably well.
Rochester: You can write what you like. I quite like your blog, you’re developing an interesting persona with Miss Underscore; witty but poignant. I do worry slightly whether anyone I know will stumble across it.
Miss U: You needn’t fret about that, Rochester. No one reads it. I’ll crack on with my next post tomorrow, while you’re writing more scurrilous notes to your dying granny.
Rochester: Aye, then, you can read it to me when I come over tomorrow night. I’d fucking love that!
Miss U: ‘Read it to you?’ For fuck’s sake Rochester, you and I both know that you’ve been doing all your own reading since you were 35. You can read it yourself!
Rochester: That’s a shame pet. I quite like the idea of you putting on a performance for me in the bedroom.
Miss U: I’d better be going soon. I can’t stay. I left the dogs home alone watching QVC. They’ve probably ordered themselves a solar powered Uri Geller crystal blamange frother or some such nonsense.
Rochester: Are you happy now? Is this one of your moments of happiness.
Miss U: Yes. Yes. It is. This is lovely. It is heaven. You are an oaf, but I always feel totally at ease with you. I don’t want to go. I must though. . .
Rochester: I know. I’ll book you a taxi (reaching for his phone).
Miss U: I can’t afford. . .
Rochester: I’ll pay. There are no buses or trains at this time of night anyway pet. (He mumbles into the phone). They’ll be here soon. (He gets up and counts out notes on the bedside table). There’s money for the fare flower. Don’t argue. Just take it.
Miss U: (Opening her mouth to speak)
Rochester: (putting his hand up to silence forthcoming objections) No! Just take it. I’m not having you roaming the city streets at 2 o’clock in the morning. What with your wellies, M&S cardigan and woolly hat, fellas’ll think you’re the most disappointingly dressed prostitute in Newcastle.
Miss U: (Still trying to speak)
Rochester: (assertively) No. Just take it pet. I’ll hear no more about it. Fucking feminists. (silence)
Miss U: Actually, I was just going to make the point that you looked remarkably comfortable handing over a pile of £20 notes to a naked woman in a hotel room. I expect this is not the first time, is it?
Rochester: Probably won’t be the last either. (The phone rings. Rochester mumbles into it while Miss Underscore gets dressed.) Petal, the taxi is outside. It’s a woman driver. Tread carefully flower. Sounds like a lesbian to me. A slightly pissed, post-coital school teacher in floral wellies will be like catnip to a dyke in a Vauxhall Vectra.
Miss U: (Dressed now but curling up into Rochester for a moment) OK. I’m off. I’ll see you tomorrow night then?
Rochester: Aye. (gently) You OK?
Miss U: Yes, of course. You?
Rochester: Aye. Definitely.
Miss U: What’s going to happen? To us? When you go home?
Rochester: Well, life will go on. Don will be packing his handkerchief full of pegs each morning and not returning till they’re all sold. You'll be terrifying your class of mackem ne're do wells with Tudor ghost stories. You know the situation. It’ll be OK pet. I’m not going to act like a twat. I don’t want you to get hurt. I know you’re a little bit. . . delicate.
Miss U: I am not sure that's realistic. Tsunamis cause damage. Hurricanes cause damage. Affairs cause damage. That's just how it is. I don't regret coming. I had to come. This just feels terrifyingly . . .doomed.
Rochester: It'll be fine petal. Wait up for me tomorrow night.
Miss U: (Getting up and gathering her things, with false brightness) Oooooh. I’ve got another blog title Rochester! How about Don of Iniquity?
Rochester: Genius pet. Utter genius.