Barry and Sandra: The Christmas Special – Part 2

The ‘disco’ part of the evening was well underway and even a few of the women from Sandra’s office had taken to the dance floor, swinging their hips and side-stepping to the usual recycled party tunes, such as The Time Warp, Birdy Song and Oops Upside Your Head.

Sandra and Stacy continued to grimace at each other as Phil Pop churned out one ‘classic hit’ after another.

“Another white wine and soda?” Offered Sandra as she got up to go to the bar. “It may anaesthetise the effects of the DJ.”

As she walked around the square of lino that formed the dance floor, her face dropped as she remembered that Martin and Barry were still propping up the bar.

“Your arse looks nice in that dress, love,” Ventured Martin, which was rather bold, even for him.

“Sod off, Martin,” Sandra replied. Barry was oblivious to the exchange and had moved on from reading beer mats to gazing vacantly at his ale. Sandra ordered the drinks, handed over the money and was about to beat a hasty retreat, when she felt a hand touch then pinch her derriere.

She jolted in surprise but managed not to lose the drinks. As she spun round, the red face and slightly bloodshot eyes smirked at her.

“What do you think you’re doing?!” Was all she could muster when the answer was blatantly obvious.

Undeterred, Martin said: “Come on, love. You know there’s an attraction between us. I know you are gagging for it.”

“No, I am bloody well not!” And with that she looked to Barry for support. Even now he surely couldn’t ignore this. But Barry was away with the fairies, still unaware of what was happening.

“But look at you, tits on show, arse sticking out. You so want it. Barry’s had his chance. Now it’s my turn.”

“You absolute dick head!” She screamed and threw her white wine and soda in his face.

“Ooh, feisty! Come here, now and give me a kiss.” And he reached out to grab her arm, even though his face, hair and shirt were now sodden.

At this point Barry was roused from his reverie. He quickly took in the scene and guessed what had happened. Martin was his mate, but he knew he was a lech. He had accepted this, but could not if it involved Sandra.

Without a second thought, he jumped up from his bar stool so swiftly that it fell and hit the floor with a crash.

He pushed Martin so that he lost his balance and stumbled over backwards in a heap. He then went over to him, helped him up and dragged him out of the room.

“Let’s go after them,” Exclaimed Stacy who had dashed across the room to see what was happening.

“No, leave it, please. Let’s just go and sit down. I want to forget about it and enjoy the rest of the night,” said Sandra. She didn’t know whether to be more shocked by Martin’s actions or Barry defending her corner. She couldn’t believe that, after weeks of avoiding her, he would step in to help.

Ten minutes passed. It felt like an hour. Then the door swung open and Barry walked in, alone. He looked a little dishevelled, slightly weary.

Stacy waddled across the room again. “I think you deserve a drink, Barry. What you having?” He accepted quietly, but barely glanced at her. He was looking around the room anxiously.

“She’s over there,” said Stacy. “I’ll bring over your drink, then pop to the loo.”

Sandra was slouched at her table, her chin resting in her hands, her mind running over what had just happened. She watched the coloured lights above the dance floor. Then her view was blocked by a man in a blue shirt.

“Hey, wake up, daydreamer,” Nudged Barry. It was the first time he had spoken to her for so long, yet still his tone was light-hearted and jokey.

Sandra didn’t know how to respond. She just gazed into his chestnut brown eyes. She felt her own eyes fill with warm tears and tried to blink them away. She looked down, having nowhere else to hide the fact she was about to cry.

But Barry sat down next to her and took her hand. With his other hand he gently brushed away a small tear before kissing her softly on the lips. It was just a small kiss but enough to press the right button in Sandra. She threw her arms around him and used all her strength to push him closer, forcing him to kiss her again, this time long and hard, tongues and all, dissolving every last scrap of pink lip gloss. Sandra’s right leg had also managed to raise itself to wrap around Barry’s hips. (“Thank God it was a flarey skirt on this dress,” she thought.)

As they kissed, the music and everything around them seemed to fade into a muffle. That was until a very loud “Woo!” became too hard to block out. It was Stacy trundling back to the table.

“You did it!” She bellowed. “You two belong together. He’s a keeper, hun.”
Barry and Sandra smiled shyly, feeling a little awkward that their reunion had been so public and guessing that it may be the subject of office gossip next week.

Then a familiar tune rose from the speakers. “Oh, maybe he does know how to play something decent for a change,”said Sandra, belching on soda bubbles.

As Paul Weller’s ‘You Do Something To Me’ started up, Barry gave Sandra a look she understood without words. They both stood up at the same time and he took her by the hand to the dance floor. Wrapped around each other, Sandra’s head nestled in Barry’s chest they did a slow dance which was more like a swaying hug. But they looked contented and in love.

“Aw bless,” Sighed Stacy to no one in particular.

Barry and Sandra: The Christmas Special – Part 1

In the British Christmas tradition of dramatic plotlines in TV soap operas I have a treat for readers this year. Ever wondered what happened to Barry and Sandra? Here’s where we catch up with them…

Sandra stands sideways in front of the mirror and sucks in her stomach. She has a slight belly pouch, despite wearing her best ‘control’ pants. But still, her black sparkly dress with a floaty skirt looks pretty good.

She has just had her roots done and her hair looks soft and shiny. As she puts on her lipstick she is filled with excitement and nerves in equal measure – could something good happen tonight or will she remember how low she has been feeling the last few months?

It is the office Christmas party and she knows Barry will be there, and they will set eyes on each other, after weeks of hiding behind desks and ducking into doorways to avoid any awkward exchanges. Barry worked in a different office, so it hadn’t been that hard to avoid him, after he unexpectedly dumped her by text message.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a loud flush. “You look nice, hun. Who are you trying to impress?” Rasped Stacy, Sandra’s rather loud and large work mate. Stacy winked and didn’t wait for an answer before she breezed out of the office loo.

Sandra glanced at her watch – “Bugger!” It was nearly time to go. She grabbed her bag and dashed out. Her and four colleagues were walking together to the Queen Rose Hotel where her work had hired a function room for turkey dinner and disco.

‘Walking together’ was rather a euphemism, seeing as they were all, including Sandra, wearing spiky high heels which they were already teetering in, before a white wine and soda had even passed their lips. They were clearly hoping for someone to lean on by the end of the evening.

As they walked through the double doors a voice boomed out: “Blimey, girls did it take that long to trowel it on? There’s only half an hour to get the drinks in before the food comes out.” It was Martin the sales manager and Barry’s partner in crime. He was always rather red-faced and Sandra didn’t like the way he regularly looked her up and down and stood too close to her whenever they shared the lift or used the water cooler at the same time.

Barry was there, but sitting at the bar, pretending to read a beer mat, avoiding Sandra’s gaze. He felt bad about what had happened, but was scared to commit, even though he knew Sandra was totally smitten. Deep down he knew he loved her, but kept it buried at the bottom of his mind. His strategy for the night was to get quietly wasted, numb his feelings and slump into his bed when he’d had enough.

Sandra spotted him, but he continued to read the beer mat, despite it only having a handful of words printed on it. With his short dark hair, slightly ruffled and greying at the temples and his straight, handsome features and broad shoulders and blue shirt, he looked sexy. For a second she admired the view, and then remembered the hurt he had caused her. Stacy also tugged her arm to usher her along. “Forget him, love,” she whispered, “Time to move on. You could have anyone you wanted, looking like you do tonight.”

Barry slowly emerged from behind the beer mat, watching Sandra walk across the room. Her bottom looked peachy and round in her dress and her hips had just the right curve for him to encircle with his hands. He thought about holding her from behind and nuzzling his face against her neck.

“Another pint?” Shouted Martin and jolted Barry back to reality. He quickly turned his thoughts to beer and banter and the fact that he was happy on his own, no woman to tie him down, nag him and stop him having a life.

So, Sandra chatted with her friends about shoes, make up, kids and TV and Barry focussed on football, beer, politics and silly jokes with his. They were surviving the night without disturbing one another. Dinner came and went – the usual two thin slices of turkey, soggy veg, runny gravy and small block of stuffing followed by a stodgy lump of pudding.

Tables were hastily cleared and the lights were turned down before the familiar sounds of Boney M blared out, courtesy of Phil Pop, the local mobile DJ. Sandra and Stacy groaned at the cliché soundtrack, which probably hadn’t changed for over 20 years. Barry and his friends retreated to the bar. They, of course, were too cool to dance to this shite (as Barry put it). But he wasn’t too cool to keep glancing over at Sandra, now the beer had zapped away some of his self-control.


Time for another party dress

Traffic is not really passing along DSM’s ‘street of love and lust’ – maybe the odd rag and bone cart or milk float, but nothing she wants to flag down.

So, I have decided I have to actively seek out another street, somewhere with moving vehicles, even if they are just five-door hatchbacks or vintage classics. I have never been impressed by flashy cars – ‘penis extensions’, as my male pals, who can’t afford them, say.

Shedding the metaphor-speak, dear confused readers, what I mean is that, because I need to make things happen to avoid dying alone, I am dipping my toe into internet dating for one last time. I had a go three or four years ago without much joy. There were dates, yes, but some lacked chemistry and some lied about their weight, hobbies etc. and used ancient photos to the extent that when I went to meet them, I could not even recognise them. It’s a good job I was telling the truth or we would both have thought we had been stood up.

Yes, I had a couple of brief entanglements lasting several weeks, but one was still not over his marriage break-up and would spend at least half an hour of our time ranting about his latest run-in with the ex: “She said this and she said that and look at this note she wrote me…” While I discovered after three weeks of seeing the other one that, as well as being a shy IT engineer, he was also a member of a football ‘firm’ and far right wing organisation and enjoyed spending weekends pummelling people.

So, this is why I have taken a while to venture out into this murky world again. That and the fact that The Man was, for some time, catering for many (but not all) of my needs.

I haven’t actually been on any dates as yet, but I intend, this time, to approach things cautiously. There are also many chaps (and probably ladies too) who are not completely honest in these forums. Let’s face it – you could be a 20-stone hairy gorilla called Alfred but have an internet persona of blonde, leggy Cynthia who enjoys picnics and spa breaks. Who would know?

First and most recent impressions are that it is a little like choosing a nice dress for a party – do you go for something comfy and familiar, which you know will suit you, but is rather like everything else in your wardrobe? Or on another rack there is something a little different, perhaps in a cut and style you wouldn’t normally go for, but if you try it on it may look pretty good, highlight your best features, even. Otherwise there is that really striking sequinned frock in the corner which has caught your eye, but is it actually designed for someone much younger and slimmer?

Choices, choices… Then it’s all a complete waste of time, effort and planning (as anyone knows if they have to negotiate childcare before they can even imagine leaving the house alone) if it all goes belly-up. And the odds are that it will. When you are meeting a random person and you have chosen one another based on a badly-taken ‘selfie’, your common interest in Emily Brontë and the fact that you both wanted to meet someone aged 35-50.

I am of course secretly hoping that my life will one day turn into a romantic comedy and I will meet a handsome stranger (around 5ft 10 – 6ft 3, blue eyes, brown hair, likes Mexican food and Mumford and Sons) when he clips my car in the NCP car park or I drop my bananas in the supermarket… But until then, I will carry on looking at different party dresses.

In the early hours…

It was the early hours of the morning, probably one or two – she couldn’t tell, as her alarm clock had stopped working. But it was that period when it was pitch black and everything was still.

She had woken up after a few hours’ sleep to the familiar embrace. The arm had wrapped itself around her waist and felt comfortable, like it was meant to be there. In her hazy half-waking, half-sleeping state she smiled into the darkness. It was good to be held, knowing she wasn’t alone and cold in her bed.

The arm squeezed her gently and she felt the fingers lightly press into her side, affectionately.

She had felt this gentle embrace sporadically for the last two or three months, always at a similar time of night. The person behind it obviously needed reassurance that she was still there at this very moment.

Then, things played out in much the same way every time.

She felt her mind and body jolt into full consciousness. She shivered from top to toe but still refused to open her eyes. A chilling tingle travelled up her spine to the back of her head and the usual realisation struck her like a slap in the face.

There was no one in the room but her. And this was why she would never open her eyes or turn over.

She was not terrified of this presence, as it was clearly benign, but still too afraid to see it.

For a few restful moments she even welcomed it. Until she remembered she was alone, single in her studio flat.

After about four months the visitor never returned. Maybe it had found another girl to embrace.

The studio flat was in a converted mill where, no doubt, workers had died from time to time. She could only speculate that this was a man whose spirit was left behind up to a century ago and he was lonely, walking the corridors, wondering what happened to his friends.

Or was it just a very vivid recurring dream?