It was the second August Bank Holiday at a theatre in East Anglia. They had split up acrimoniously in June; and to avoid a backstage miasma producers stopped putting them on the same variety bills.
Thank fuck for that!
Tonight was an exception.
He was there first, in the place on my left, marking his cards. She got there just before the half. No rush, she pointed out, as she was the burlesque headliner tonight. They must each have seen that the other was there by now.
She said, 'Has anyone got a pen? I can't believe it, but I've had to stop off in Camden on the way here and buy a diary for next year. I know! Already. I've got bookings galore already coming in for 2016, I thought I needed to stop scribbling them in forward planning, hardly able to read my writing, and get them down properly.'
The rest of us had blank pages galore this side of the tube maps in our 2015 diaries.
Someone lent her a pen.
'I won't talk for a while, thank you.' she said. 'I'll just be sitting here writing all next year's bookings into my new diary. Really can't believe it!'
She sat and began writing.
He had been staring at a spot just beyond his hands, a trick deck splayed between them. He looked up. 'Can't believe it, can't believe it, but has anyone got a pen and paper? Cheers...cheers. I won't talk, thank you. I'll just be sitting here writing the two words total and cretin over and over and over. Really can't believe it!'
A chair was very nearly thrown.