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international librarian of mystery

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Just a quiet G&T down at the Lawn Bowls club

I think it was the Thursday afternoon shift tidying up the Children's Library that gave me the cold.

Not only am I on extra shelving duties as part of my penance for my blogging sins, I've also pulled a couple of extra end-of-the-day-clean-up details in the kids' area. I love kids, but they really do make a mess of the library. I can completely empathise, of course, being a slob, but where I don't mind my own disorder, other people's untidiness makes me furious.

As such, I was building up a right fury on Thursday afternoon, after having spent nearly half an hour recovering the picture books from every nook and cranny, and then fifteen minutes trying to reunite a Hi-5 video-tape with its respective case. As per usual I reached under the cushions of the reading area in the likely scenario that the video's case, or some other random library item, had ended up under there over the course of the day. My fingers plunged into a sticky glutinous mess. A nappy. A fully used one. The odour hit my nose just microseconds later. I just about spewed when I pulled my hand out to view the shit now encasing my digits. Ugh.

When I got home later that night, I had a terrible head-cold. I swear I could still smell the baby-poo on my fingers, despite half a dozen washes in super-hot water with every anti-bacterial soap and cleanser available to me in the library's extensive collection of hygienic products. It was either the bacteria from the infant faeces or a more general malaise that had snuck up on me after a week of slogging it in dusty shelving bays, but wherever it had come from, there was something in my sinuses that my body was extremely keen to expel with the aid of vast amounts of mucus.

I rang in sick Friday morning, not even having to try that hard to put on a 'sick' voice. I went back to bed, Vicks Vaporub liberally applied after a long hot shower, and promptly slept until noon. I got up, logged in, checked my email, and spotted the invitation noizy had sent me to the Radio Active end-of-year DJ party at the Melrose Workingmen's Bowls Club that afternoon. Feeling a lot better after a decent sleep, I figured I could probably do with a couple of medicinal drinks or two - gin and tonics were the order of the day apparently, and nothing, other than brandy, perhaps, strikes me as a better alcohol-based cure for what ailed me. I pulled on some party clothes, stocked up on handkerchiefs, and walked the short distance to the Bowling Club.

I don't actually know any of the Radio Active staff except noizy, so when I turned up and he wasn't there, I did my usual gravitate-to-a-quiet-corner-with-free-drink-in-hand to watch events unfold. I found a nice nook overlooking the bowling green, where a small tournament between some of the Active staff was under way.

Lawn bowls is so soothing, especially when you're not actually playing. I just sat and watched from my sunny spot, sipping an ice-cold vodka and lemonade. I hadn't been able to find the gin that had been spoken of in the invite, but I wasn't complaining - I'm sure the fine 42 Below vodka has just as many palliative effects as it's juniper berry based counterpart.

Or maybe not: my nose was still running like the proverbial tap. I had soaked one hanky through, and was just befouling a fresh new one when a shadow passed in front of me and I found someone sitting on the bench-seat next to me. A guy. Quite a nice looking guy nice, too...

"Natalie?" he enquired.
"Errrr, yes."
"Aha! I thought it might be. Hi, I'm Darcy."
"Hi Darcy. How did, you, er..."
"The top. Your duck print thing from World. I read about it. You are bizgirl, aren't you?"
"Oh, yes, aha. God, this is the first time this has happened."
"There was the pink lady, I seem to recall."
"Oh my god. You read that? Well, obviously you read that. But, yes, well, I could deny it that time. This is the first time I've been busted outright in public."
"Ah, well, you're practically famous now."

If I wasn't already so hot and bothered from the sun, sickness and vodka, I probably would have blushed.

"Hardly," I said, "flash-in-the-pan on a slow news day."
"A great story though. How did you get the idea?"

And so it went, back into the story, yet again. I might have to get a new T-shirt made up - 'Just Read the Blog' - but, this time, at least, I didn't mind too much. Darcy, decked up to the nines in full whites, was cutting quite a striking figure, and I happily gabbled onto him through another couple of vodkas until he got the call up to play another game.

I topped up my drink again, and returned to watch my hero-for-the-day engaged in his bowls battle. Darcy started out spraying the bowls all over the green, but he wasn't as bad as his opponent, a portly blonde gentlemen who I couldn't decide was a 'mature' DJ or an actual bowls club member who had partaken in too much of the free booze. As the bowls spread far and wide over the green, Darcy edged out to a lead, much to the amusement of both me and a gathering crowd of Active DJ coolsters, all of whom offered no end of inane advice in his quest for victory.

"Just nudge this one in a bit, Darce."
"Darcy, mate, push that one to the right and you'll block his drive."
"Just a toucher here Darcy, a wee tickle to the left."

The game eventually came to an end, with Darcy the winner. From somewhere a magnum of champagne was produced to celebrate then win, and, quite the gentleman, Darcy poured and handed me a flute, full to the brim with the bubbly stuff.

"To victory!" he toasted.
"Yes," I agreed.

We proceeded to drink the rest of the bottle of champagne, and then found room for a couple more vodkas.

By now, with the sun beating down, my cold, a total lack of food, the vodka and the champagne, it would be fair to say I was completely and utterly rollicking. Darcy's ongoing attention and insistence that I was not only 'a million times better than that Bridget Jones lady', but also his outright fibs on how nice I was looking had me flicking my hair and touching his upper arm with salacious abandon. Before I knew it, we had found a quiet cranny around the back of the club and were snogging up a storm. Or, at least, kissing desperately for about 10 seconds, interspersed with short breaks where I had to come up for air. We'd tangle tongues, then, when I felt asphyxia coming on, I'd disengage, snort back the massed tide of snot in my nose, take a deep breath, and head back for more. After about 10 minutes of this, the thought of kissing this virtual stranger, infested with germs as I was, struck me as being hysterically funny, and I snorted in mid-kiss, which had the unfortunate side-effect of sending a spray of snot onto his cheek, much as football players send their excess mucus speeding to the grass with a well directed blow of the nostril.

"Oh god, sorry," I giggled, proceeding to smear my sneeze-spray over his cheek with my last, only moderately used hanky.

Darcy was very gracious, told me not to worry, and, indeed, looked as if he was keen to continue. But, much to his dismay, I told him I really wasn't feeling well, told him to 'email me sometime', and again refusing to be walked home, staggered the two blocks back to my flat, where I collapsed into bed, and slept (perhaps 'became unconscious' might be more apt) for about 18 hours. I woke up early in the afternoon on Saturday, utterly dehydrated, my tongue rasping my parched lips as I tried to spirit some moisture from somewhere, whereupon the memory of Friday afternoon flooded back into my mind, and I curled up in my bed in embarrassment.

I spent the rest of Saturday and Sunday in hangover-headcold hell, only moving from my bed to the kitchen to top up my glass of water as I fought a losing battle against dehydration. It seemed that every drop of water that went into me was destined to be blown out my nose in a more sticky form shortly afterwards, leaving my swollen and pounding brain short of necessary fluids.

Ugh, so so sick. I will never drink again.