Late July 2015
Kristina was enjoying a solitary drink. This was not her usually haunt by any means. She was currently sat on a slightly firm, but comfy armchair in the corner of a weatherspoons about 5 minutes from her house. It was pleasant enough in here but not her usually preference.
It was warm enough for her have sat outside. However, the (not particularly huge) beer garden had already been filled by what looked like a stag party – most of the all-male group were wearing different fluorescent coloured onesies accessorised by feather boas. She checked her watch, 7:30pm. They were obviously pre-drinking before heading into town. It was a cheap place to do it… and it was still way too early for any self-respecting person in their late teens or early 20’s to head into town.
So, she was stuck indoors. But that did make ordering drinks a lot easier. Usually, she would have made the trip over to town in search of a half decent cocktail. Even considering the pre-mixed ones just made a shiver pulse down Kristina’s spine. They were just nasty when you knew how the drinks were supposed to taste.
With that in mind, she played it safe and ordered a Gin and Tonic.
She turned to her left, it was her neighbour. Caroline – an elderly lady who spent most of her time in the garden and catching passers-by in conversation – was wondering in her direction with two glasses of something bubbly.
“Hi Caroline, are you celebrating something?” asked Kristina, gesturing to the glasses.
The lady, her eyes twinkling madly nodded with a grin,
“My very good friend Brian is turning 80 today – so we thought we would come out and celebrate,” Caroline replied – nodding to another table further into the room with a balding gentlemen dressed in a shirt and jeans.
“Tell him happy birthday from me. I hope you both have a lovely evening.”
“Thank you dear. I’ll see you soon!”
The rather short woman disappeared off with her two glasses and left the corner feeling quieter than it had before.
Even her elderly neighbour seemed to have a better social life than she did, mused Kristina as she stared at the lime slice that was currently doing laps around the edge of her glass. ‘Getting out more’ needed to be added to her ‘To-do’ list. Although, she was now starting to pray that none of the clients she didn’t like were planning on coming in here tonight. After a few G&T’s her filter may well be defunct.
Resisting the urge to rescue her mobile phone from her pocket, Kristina started staring around the room. It was an odd mix in here. Predominately, probably because it was a little local pub by a small high street, there was a strange mix of locals of all ages. So not a usual mix, but it made for an unusual atmosphere.
The younger families were starting to make a relaxed exit from the building as she wondered up to the bar to order a burger and chips. It was from there that she spotted her. Clutching her bag, she scurried over to the familiar face who was currently sat on her own on a chair by the door.
The other woman looked up to see an excitable looking Kristina making a beeline towards her. Finally, whichever god was up there was starting to smile on her. The original plan was for her to meet Mark up here for dinner. But he had decided last minute (i.e. she had walked up to meet him and was waiting outside the pub) that work was far too busy for him to have an evening off. So, not wanting to waste the walk, she wondered into the pub to find food.
“Hi Kristina, how are you?”
“Well thanks! Are you on your own? I’ve got a table over the other side of the room. I’ve ordered food, want to join me?”
Amelia nodded with a grin, “Yes I am, last minute plan change. That would be great, I’ll just order some food. What table number are you?”
“27. Just over in the corner, I’ll see you there in a sec.”
Within a few minutes Amelia was comfortably sat in the corner with Kristina sipping a large glass of red wine. To a passer-by, the pair both looked a lot happier that they had previously. A sense of calm had been ignited into the corner of the room.
Dinner arrived about 10 minutes later – leading to a loud ‘woop’ from Kristina and Amelia snorting into her wine glass. Thankfully, no wine crime was committed on this evening out.
“So what brought you out this evening?” asked Amelia, dipping her narn bread into her curry.
“Got bored with sitting at home, but couldn’t be bothered to dress up or go anywhere. I also have no friends and Carl is away on business, again. So hence why I am here and on originally on my own,” explained Kristina, her 2nd – or was it 3rd? – G&T starting to loosen her tongue a little. The filter was definitely starting to head out of the door in a skip.
The other woman grinned, “I completely know that feeling. It took me ages to get Mark to agree to meet me for dinner and he cancelled about 15 minutes ago. I mean, for God’s sake, I was already stood outside!”
“But, look at it this way – it brought you to a place where there is wine!!!” Now Kristina’s gestures were starting to become very over exaggerated.
It was at the point Amelia was about to get up to order them another round that a tray with 4 sparkling glasses of wine arrived with the remainder of a bottle to their table. Caroline and her gentleman friend suddenly also appeared with chairs.
“We figured that you lovely ladies both needed new wine in new glasses and we wanted the pleasure of your company,” explained Brian – in a voice that was slightly louder than required, handing out the glasses with a huge beaming smile plastered across his face.
Kristina flashed a look at Caroline (she was aiming for slightly quizzical, but she was not entirely sure her face had managed it fully). The other woman just gave her a bright, wide smile in return that informed Kristina that this had not been her idea. However, that woman had not considered it a bad one and had completely gone along with the scheme.
Amelia raised an eyebrow at Kristina – as if to say ‘does this happen often to you?’ To which she received a small shrug in reply as Kristina reached for her glass.
“I would love to thank Brian for the wine…. Very lovely of you! I would also like to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY!”
The unconventional group then all clinked glasses and necked down half a glass. They then all had a small coughing fit. Bubbles are not great for swallowing. Then they all laughed loudly and Caroline decided that shots were in order. Apparently, when not gardening, she was a great Tequila drinker. Who knew?
“So what brought you lovely ladies out?” queried Brian, having got rid of his lemon rind on the tray.
“A lack of anything else better to do,” responded Amelia, following suit, “My husband is a total arse and decided to cancel plans while I waited for him outside.”
Brian stared at her, wide eyed, “I’m not being funny, but if I was married to someone like you I would never leave your side – or your bed!”
Kristina nearly wet herself laughing at Amelia’s shocked face.
Caroline promptly smacked the man’s arm and jokingly hissed, “stop giving the lady ideas. You’re taken!” She finished the telling off with a very over exaggerated wink in his direction.
He laughed loudly and the group all quickly joined in.
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