‘Ah, the ladies of solace,’ I exclaimed. And then do you know what I said next? Wait for it:
‘Dispensing the Devil’s brew to those inclined to the dark and deceitful.’
Why do I say things like that? And what is this manic attraction to alliteration?
Anyway, the young woman behind the counter gave me one of those knowing smiles that young women do quite well, drew the back of her hand across her forehead, and said ‘Phew.’ Whether she was expressing admiration, mockery, or whether she was responding appropriately in what she saw as a game of role play, I couldn’t tell. I just felt slightly silly for having said it.
But there followed a discussion about vampires, Dracula, children of the night and so on. She’d never read Dracula, she admitted, but she had seen a documentary about the vampire tradition in literature and knew about Vlad the Impaler and Vlad Dracul – which suggests she isn’t quite as ordinary as she likes to pretend.
Her colleague joined in. She had read Dracula, she informed me proudly, and agreed with me that some parts of it are very well written, while others are just plain silly. So it seems that alliteration has its uses after all.
It got better. I decided to have a piece of Belgian chocolate tiffin with my coffee. I think I’m correct in calculating that it’s the first time in about two decades that I’ve gone to such extravagant lengths as to buy a piece of cake in a coffee shop.
‘It’s to celebrate the fact that it isn’t my birthday,’ I said.
‘That it isn’t your birthday?’
‘Well, I’ve reached an age where birthdays are more a matter of dread than celebration, so it makes more sense to celebrate the fact that it’s not my birthday today.’
That second conversation never happened. I put it in here is because:
1. What I actually said was ‘just so you can’t accuse me of never buying anything to eat,’ which wouldn’t have been half so incisive.
2. It’s what I wish I’d said.
3. It makes impeccable sense.
4. Because I can.
And this post is in lieu of the discarded one about how miserable yesterday evening’s walk made me feel. The Ds were dropping thick and fast: death, decay, descending, dull, dour, damn-cold-wind, etc, etc. And this morning I got a highly complimentary farewell from somebody who is very dear to me. It depressed me a bit.