Sunday, 25 December 2011

Scene 23: December 2011

A Christmas special.  This will bring the Rochester story bang up to date.  Mind you, be warned, dearest reader, Christmas does not bring out the best in me.  If I were you, before starting on this torpid tale, I'd have a snifter of Tio Pepe and a couple of Ferraro Rocher.  They will serve to take the edge off the seasonal misery.

MAUDLIN KLAXON:  This  blog post is rated XXX:  expect several sexual swear words and immoderate and gratuitous scenes of gloomy introspection.

It is Christmas Eve as I type this. I did get up this morning wondering if Rochester could possibly have sent me something for Christmas.  Yesterday he spoiled me by emailing a copy of Splendour in the Glass*, the trade paper for window salesmen everywhere.  (I can't help but think Spendour in the Crass would be a much more appropriate title.)  Anyway, the rogue, becufflinked and silken of tie, was the publication's rather funereal and frowning cover star.

"He looks rather sinister, with that scowl and thicket of eyebrows. I am not sure whether he is planning on selling me a conservatory or defiling me on a UPVC alter." was Madam Noir's observation.

"His eyes seem to follow you around the room.  If he grew a beard he'd be the Charles Manson of home improvements."  

But there was nothing from him, of course, no Christmas card or gift.  There never is. So, I shall tell you the rest of our sorry tale.  And, as ever, I shall try to make it funny and sweet and charming. Without funny and sweet and charming I would just weep and weep and never stop.   I will try to airbrush the pain and the strangling loneliness out of this story.  Holy fuck.  Rochester and me.  Our so-called relationship.  It puts me in mind of Eric Morecambe.  We seem to hit all the right notes, just not necessarily in the right order.

The truth is I haven't seen Rochester since last Christmas.  So, this is yet another Pillow Talk, split-scene telephone call.  It takes place on a darkening midwinter Sunday afternoon.  Miss Underscore is on the sofa, sandwiched betwixt snoring lurchers and dreaming kittens.  The wind rages furiously outside.  Tree branches, like twisted witch's fingers, claw at the rattling window panes.

Rochester:  Flower, I am literally leaving now to go to the Grotto*.  How long will it take you to get there?  It's half past two now, so I know for a fact you're probably already in your pyjamas.

Miss U: Are you at your mam's?

Rochester: Aye, I'm in Shields.  I've got to get out of here.  Granny's high on sherry, nougart and Endomorph.  She's reminiscing about the halcyon days at the abattoir and tap-dancing to show tunes.  I've tried to coax her back into bed but she battered me with her walking stick and told me to fuck off.  She's been gannin' on about black people all afternoon. Telling me if I ever bring a black lass home she'll batter me.  She seems to forget I'm married.

Miss U:  She's not the only one.  Must run in the family.

Rochester:  I need a fucking drink. I need a conversation with someone pretty, charming and sane.  That bird couldn't make it, so I'm asking you.

Miss U: There you go with the David Niven charm again.  Your Granny.  She truly is  50% Magda Goebbels and 60% Bull Mastiff.

Rochester:  That makes 110%I can't believe you're teaching Year 6 maths flower.  God help them bairns.  They'll never have the skills to put together a coherent double glazing quotation when they grow up.  I'm setting off now, just putting me overcoat on. What are you drinking flower?  I'll get you one in. . . .

Miss U: Oh Rochester, I'm not coming. You know that.

Rochester:  Why?

Miss U: We've had this conversation.  You know why.

Rochester:  I don't know why.  Run it past me again flower.

Miss U:  You DO know why.  (valiantly trying to change the subject) Your poor granny. Aunty Margaret has a walking stick now too, you know.  She's pretty much tied to the sofa with her rumbling ovaries these days.  Oooo, speaking of ovaries, have I told you, Noir is dating a teacher.  A female teacher.  A teacheress.  Of the lesbian persuasion.

Rochester: Hang on, stop it right there Underscore! Don't try and banjax this conversation with talk of Aunty Margaret and moss mumblers.  We can discuss both in detail over gin. Why are you not coming to the Grotto?

Miss U: We have this conversation endlessly.  By phone.  By text.  Every time you tell me you're coming North.

Rochester: Aye.  And?

Miss U: I always say the same.  I want to see you.  I can't see you. I won't see you.

Rochester: Because I'm married.

Miss U: Because you're married.

Rochester: (sighing)  I think your cunting lesbian blog followers are getting pretty hacked off with scenes that are just us TALKING.  On the phone like.  I want to see you.

Miss U: I can't. That's all.  

Rochester: You know, maybe we could have some fun?  Maybe it would actually be FUN.  When was the last time you had fun?

Miss U:  Fun?  I'm not sure I DO fun. Possibly 1984.  Easington Colliery fair.  Power cut. I got stuck in the Ghost Train with a lad from the hoopla stall and a 4-pack of Babycham.

Rochester: Gosh. Is that a true story?

Miss U:  No.  Even as  14 year old I preferred a night in with Kate Bush and Daphne du Maurier to wayward fumblings with a sinewy youth who smelled of candyfloss and bonfires.

Rochester:   Kate Bush and Daphne du Maurier, and so we are back to lesbians.  We're getting off the subject here.  I quite fancy seeing your hair. I've not seen you since you went blonde.  I am picturing you as a quite tousled, barefoot Brigitte Bardot. 

Miss U:  You can picture it all you like.  I expect I actually resemble one her bedraggled, arthritic rescued mutts.  The label on the L'Oreal packet says 'Sun-kissed California Blonde'.  On me it is more 'Gone-to-Seed Albanian Labrador'.

Rochester:  I was hoping to see your new blonde look in that bedroom film you sent me the other month.

Miss U:  You were disappointed in that film, I could tell.

Rochester:  Any red blooded male would be flower.  You promised me a boudoir film, it was just a shots of your lipstick collection, your vinatge 1930s eiderdown and your art deco prints.  (pause)  You're really not coming, are you.

Miss U:  No Rochester.  I'm not.

Rochester:  (frustrated) So this is it?  You're happy with things they way they are?  

Miss U: What do you mean?

Rochester:  The phone calls, the texts.  This suits you quite well doesn't it?  A relationship that actually isn't a relationship.

Miss U: What on earth do you mean?  Of course this doesn't suit me well.  It's not what I want at all.

Rochester:  So, come and meet me.  

Miss U: You're married.  You have more children than Baron Van Trapp.  You've just had another baby a couple of months ago.

Rochester: I was married last Christmas. You met me then.  I had children last Christmas.  Nowt's changed.  (exuberant singing is heard in the background)

Miss U:  Is that your granny?

Rochester:  Aye, she's singing  Puttin' on the Ritz to a packet of corn plasters.  I've retreated to the conservatory.  What's changed? 

Miss U: Well, I guess I've learnt that I can't cope with it.  I can't cope with random days or nights together and then you leaving to go back home.  It's fine for you.  You get the best of both worlds.  It's agony for me.  I don't think you see that. 

Rochester: Well, what DO you want?

Miss U: Not to have to talk about this.  I am going to go Rochester now.  Go check on your granny. 

Rochester: Don't go. What DO you want to happen?  Howay. Tell me.

Miss U: (long pause) I don't know.  I don't know what to say, Rochester. I'm hanging up.

Rochester: Don't hang up.  Don't say anything then.  Just stay there. I don't mind pet.  Let's just sit.

(A long silence on the line is eventually broken by a slurring Scottish lady cawing her way through New York, New York.)

Miss U: I wonder if, when we're in our nineties, we'll still be having this conversation.  I wonder if you'll still be sending me filthy texts about my arse.  I expect you'll have retired on your peg millions by then.  You'll have built Rochester Towers, assuming you haven't frittered your double-glazing riches on cocaine and pie and chips.

Rochester: You know, the thought of getting old terrifies me.

Miss U: I plan on being madly eccentric. 

Rochester: You do surprise me.

Miss U: I expect I'll only wear black lace, like a Sicilian widow.   I'll smoke cigarettes, made from violet petals, from a long, tapering silver cigarette holder.

Rochester:  You'd suit a pipe, actually.

Miss U: In my fridge I'll keep only gin, Chanel scarlet lipstick and erotica by Anais Nin.

Rochester: Who are you kidding? No Mr Kipling French Fancies?

Miss U:  When I am out and about I'll prod grubby or ill-mannered children with a sharpened ivory-handled walking stick.  I'll be terrifying. I'll grow only black dahlias in my garden. I'll wear wide-brimmed sun hats. I'll drink tea from delicate china teacups, painted with forget me nots.  The house will be full of hazy sunlight, yellowing paperbacks, dust, faded velvet and taxidermy lurchers.

Rochester: Will you still be harassing me then?

Miss U:  You'll be too old for me by then.  I'll only have dalliances with wildly inappropriate younger men.  I'll never remember their names.  I'll just click my gnarled, bejeweled fingers and snap 'Young Man, I'm feeling a chill, bring me my fox fur'  I'm not scared of getting old.  I'm scared of NOT getting old.  I am precisely the age my mum was when she died.  

Rochester: Aye, I know. I know how much you miss your parents.   

Miss U: I've been missing my mum all my life.

Rochester:  What are we going to do flower?

Miss U:  What do YOU want?

Rochester:  I want to be able to come up, spend time with you, sleep with you.

Miss U:  Oh.

Rochester:  I would like some tenderness, some gentleness in my life.  My life is just compromise, noise and resentment.  I can't take much more of it, to be honest.  I'm close to walking away.

Miss U: It's not a very edifying thought Rochester, that you only see me as some sort of extra-curricular trifle.  A North East tourist attraction.  Like Beamish Open Air Museum or . . . . fuck, I can't think of another one.  Durham Cathedral.  Craster kippers.

Rochester:  That is not what I mean.  We both know that you deserve much better than this.  Well, I know it. I'd be happy if you met someone.  I think. 

Miss U: Really?

Rochester: Well.  I'd understand.  You know, I think you're beautiful.  You are.  Sexy.  You ARE you know.  You don't know it, but you are.  Bonkers mind.  Cunting bonkers.  I expect you know that bit. You make me smile.  There's a quiet, a peace about you.   

Miss U: Oh.

Rochester: I AM leaving flower. Home, I mean. I think I am.  I have to. 

* Not its real name, like, obviously.
* *The Grotto, famous pub built into the cliffs by the North Sea. Suicide-hot spot of the North East.  Scene of many a Rochester/ Underscore date.


  1. Don't be taken in, Miss U. He won't change, and you deserve better.

    PS. You went blonde? This could change everything.

  2. I AM blonde. Albeit in a rather timid, mousy and Church of England sort of a way. An ebony, Louise Brooks bob is FUCKING HARD WORK to maintain.


  3. Crying the tears of recognition... xx

  4. No no no Miss Underscare, blonde hair, Albanian labrador, or brunette, don't get drawn in again. It's Christmas, no-one's in a rational frame of mind, but Mr Wants-it-both-ways is feeling a bit frisky and fancies a jump. He does like you yes, in his way, but you'll never get the slightest commitment from him.

    Sounds almost the wrong thing to say now Miss U, but Happy Christmas anyway - your blog's been my favourite new discovery of 2011 and I am willing as hard as my will can will that things work out for your in 2012. But from what I've read, it won't be with R.

  5. UnderSCORE, sorry. Wrong side of a bottle of Madeira (or should that be "right"?)

  6. He really really doesn't deserve you. He'll be sorry next year when you meet a lovely sane lurcher-loving man. Hope you've had a lovely Christmas and that next year brings all you could hope for x

  7. Dump him, pleeeeeeeease. I know about unrequited love: it's not a good look in the end.

    Cracking blog -- you write like a dream.

  8. *sob*

    So it ends, not with a bang but with a whimper.

    Leave the bugger alone. Leave his brother alone.

    Search for new areas to discover.

    BTW. Did you notice a drop in IQ after you went blonde?

  9. Oh. Was sure I was *the best* at torpid introspection at the minute. But no, you win. And are splendid as ever.

  10. Is it, though? Over?

    I don't know. It's so hard to extricate yourself from something like that, that is all about the absence, and the missed potential and mostly happens in your head. How do you turn that off?

    I survived a similar thing in my twenties. I think I just accommodated it, in the end.
    Also, funneling it into your work is very good. Therapeutic, no less. Keep at it, I say. You should be on the telly.

  11. You deserve better underscore x

  12. Clearly, a trip to the dog shelter for another lurcher is in order. You know the quote, "the more I know men...".

  13. Miss Underscore, I am delurking to implore you NOT to give in to Rochester. Yes you like him, but he is married and even if he leaves and you go for it, you are getting into a whole new mess with ex, and kids, and,tellingly, how long will he stay faithful to you??? Being a similar age to you and also single and wishing it were different, I know how hard it is to find a nice bloke with only a modest amount of baggage. However, we still need to aspire to someone who will treat us with respect, kindness, courtesy, common human decency and love. (Ok, hot sex does help too!) We DESERVE this, it is far better to wait than settle for second best, or settle for someone who can't put us first. If you were listening to someone telling you about their relationship with someone who behaves like Rochester, what would you think and say?
    Change your numbers, block his emails, and just don't talk to him, the smooth tongued git will talk you round, and you KNOW it is a bad idea. We love you! xx


  14. Aww, thank you for the comments. Genuinely touched, as ever.


  15. Back on Christmas Day my reader said there was a new post, but when I clicked on it, there wasn't, so it's taken me until today to find it.

    I cried. Damn it, woman, you write like a fucking dream.

    I had an 'unsuitable' relationship once but I was the married one and he wasn't. He eventually moved to Australia and I've not seen him since. I still think about him and dream about what might have been but, as with Rochester, he was a philanderer and it would NEVER have worked out., scratch's DEFINITELY better that way because I have the nice memories, the gentle, bittersweet longing of an impossible future and not the reality of infidelity, his kids by other women, etc.

    You know Rochester's a charmer, he's a rogue, he's interesting, he makes you feel good in your no-no zone but YOU DESERVE BETTER. However, he is DAMN good blog material....

    Hope your 2012 is more hopeful but please don't stop writing.

  16. And what next for Parma Violet Tea?

    Excellent writing as always... but I would not dare comment either way about Mr R. Your heart is yours to give away, break or nourish as you choose. But if you're reading this Rochester, "tread softly". This lady deserves a break!

  17. Your blog is beautiful and sad. I've read the entire thing over the past few weeks; looking forward to it every day. You deserve true love and happiness. Wishing you all the best and thanks for writing.

  18. "cunting lesbian blog followers"... excellent. Could we have badges?

    Happy New Year Miss Underscore. I hope it's going to be a good one for you. x

  19. Dear Miss Underscore,

    hoping that the School of Hard Knocks & Pompous Pilot not driving you to distraction.

    Hope to read some more of your wonderful writing anon

  20. We're missing you, Miss Underscore!

  21. Oh, thank you. I will be back soon. Honestly. Thank you, thank you, thank you.


  22. Oh thank goodness for that. Hoping that silence is golden, and no news is good news (whatever that might be), and that there is plenty of gin and cake.

  23. Missing you, Miss U

  24. Are you ever coming back? Keep checking hopefully...

  25. Oh dear. It just ends! This is sad, I've been reading since 2009. Or since this morning when I started reading the entries from 2009 anyway.