Life Begins At Thirty : Chapter Three


London

When most people think about dream holiday destinations they think of somewhere sunny, far far away and whilst those types of places would be in my top ten, the top three are all large cities, London, New York and Sydney.

London is one of my favourite places in the world. I love the cosmopolitan atmosphere. I love the fact that there is so much to do and the public transport is so good that it can take you anywhere you want to go at pretty much any time you want to go there. I love the fact that I can go out get drunk and get away with visiting gentleman’s clubs because I’m one hundred miles away from home and nobody knows me and there is no one to humiliate myself in front of.

It had been three months since my birthday lottery win and I was half way through my week away. I began the day in the hotel gym and then got a massage from a beautiful Eastern European lady. That evening I had enjoyed a show at the Albert Hall and now I was sitting in a small cocktail bar in Soho, the interior of which resembled someone’s house and was filled with a seductive sultry blend of incense which scrambled the brain even before the cocktails began to flow.

The cocktails were some of the best I’d ever tasted. My cocktail of choice had always been a Mojito and I’d learned to make good ones myself having been frustrated by the lack of decent mixologists back home. Tonight however I had decided to branch out and, having already downed two glasses of a sickly sweet number which tasted like Orange Crème Quality Street, I was now drinking a house special which contained dry ice which smoked away like a miniature cauldron as I sucked on a metallic straw to get at the magical concoction contained within.

This was the longest consecutive time I’d spent in the capital since a failed attempt at living here some ten years previously. I had always visited for a day or two and always on my own. The loneliness that haunted my life had never really bothered me on these trips because I always packed those couple of days with activities, whether they be going to see movies, the filming of TV shows, operas, museums and of course the gentleman’s clubs but now having spent almost a week here I was starting to miss home, to miss Marissa and everyone at work. I had always planned to move to London when I had money, and I certainly had money now, but at that moment I couldn’t see how moving away from home would work.

I reminded myself that I wasn’t alone. The room was packed with people in fact. Packed with couples actually. Looking around the room I realised what was making me feel so anxious. The entire room was full of couples engaging in some extreme PDA. It was at that point that I noticed her.

Across the room two guys were making out in a small booth. Sitting across from them was a slim girl with long blonde hair which hid her face. She was nursing the same house special cocktail that I was. Once she had finished she sat back and brushed the hair back behind her ears and I saw her face for the first time. The girl was undeniably cute, but looked massively uncomfortable at the display of public affection that was occurring in front of her.

Maybe it was the money I had in my pocket or alcohol I had consumed that night but I was feeling brave, unusually confident. I quickly scribbled a note and handed it to the barman, pointing at the girl. He hurriedly made another cocktail and took the drink over to her handing her the note which read “I’m not a fan of PDA either, if you want to escape come sit with me”. The girl looked at the note and spoke to the barman who pointed toward me before walking away. The girl smiled, looked at the drink, looked over at me and then the couple in front of her.

It took a couple of anxious minutes for her to decide. Just as I was beginning to regret the note, thinking she thought me to be a pervert or creep she suddenly picked up her drink and began to totter drunkenly over to me, sitting on the bar-stool next to me.

“Thanks for the drink” she said quietly.

“I’m Renner” I said.

“Hannah” she replied slurring slightly.

“Shit what do I say now?” I thought. I took a sip of my drink. A long sip. I knew as soon as my mouth left the straw I would have to say something. This was often where I failed talking to girls, well, talking to anyone really. Then something struck me.

“Our names are both palindromes” I said.

“What’s a palindrome?” Hannah said. I loved it when I could teach a pretty girl something. I liked feeling smarter than people, it was the only advantage I had. I wasn’t pretty, I wasn’t funny, intentionally anyway, but I had at least a half decent recall of random useless factoids that I could teach pretty girls.

“A palindrome is a word that is the same backwards and forwards.” I explained. “Hannah backwards is Hannah, Renner backwards is Renner.”

“That is slightly interesting and also quite nerdy” Hannah giggled at me drunkenly.

I was slightly disheartened at her description of my talent. Slightly interesting isn’t sexy and despite The Big Bang Theory’s best efforts neither is being a nerd.

“Tell me some more nerdy things” she smiled at me sipping her drink but keeping her eyes locked on me. Immediately every nerdy fact I knew was wiped from my mind.

“Char Siu Bau sir?” The barman interrupted holding a plate of Char Siu Pork Buns which I had ordered an hour ago.

“Yes, thanks” I said and he laid the plate on the bar in front of me. “Would you like a bun?” I asked Hannah.

“We ate earlier” She replied looking over to the two guys who had not yet come up for air from their snogging.

“What did you have?” I asked taking a bite of a bun. It’s quite hard to eat large buns with any degree of finesse but I was trying my best.

“Some prawn things, some spring rolls” She smiled. “You have some sauce on your nose”.

I’m sure I must have been bright red as she reached over and wiped the sauce from the tip of my nose but thankfully the low candlelight hid that.

“Thanks” I smiled back.

We talked for what seemed like hours and drank pretty much every cocktail on the menu. Hannah told me of her life and her dreams of a previous life which fascinated me and I was eager to hear more. We left the bar together, stumbling drunkenly to the tube, to my hotel room. We made love.