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When Jamie moved to London, he was just 20.
After two years of working in the advertising department of a West Country regional newspaper, Jamie had managed to build up a portfolio of work that was good enough to convince the powers that be at Mackenzie-Marshall that he was worth a punt.
He had also been lucky enough to find a small, furnished one-bedroom flat just off Baker Street. The flat was handy to Baker Street Tube station and just a short walk to the Paddington mainline station, ‘gateway to the West’ and his old home county of Dorset.
The flat came with a telephone, but the agent warned Jamie that it would probably take three or four weeks to get it connected. ‘The bastards’ll get around to it when they get around to it,’ the agent said. ‘Bastards.’ So it was something of a surprise when Jamie arrived home on his first Thursday evening in London to the sound of the telephone ringing.
‘Hi. It’s me. Jennifer.’
Jennifer was a sort of friend of Jamie’s mother. A young friend of Jamie’s mother. Well, she was young compared to Jamie’s mother. But she was almost middle-aged compared to Jamie. Jennifer was a born and bred Londoner who had moved out West to marry Howard. (Howard worked for Jamie’s father.) But the marriage hadn’t worked out, and so Jennifer had moved back to London where she was helping her father to run his import-export business.
‘How are you?’ Jennifer asked. ‘How’s the new flat? More importantly, how’s the new job?’
‘Umm … yeah … so far, everything is just great,’ Jamie told her. ‘Couldn’t be better.’
‘I’m pleased to hear it,’ Jennifer said. ‘I wondered if you might like a visitor.’
‘A visitor? Oh! You? Yes. That’d be brilliant,’ Jamie said. ‘Yes. Brilliant.’
‘When’s a good time?’
‘Any time really.’
‘You choose,’ she said.
‘Umm … why don’t you come over for supper on Saturday?’
‘OK,’ Jennifer said. ‘Saturday it is. I’ll bring some food.’
‘It’s OK. I’ll make some lasagne. I’m quite good at making lasagne. At least I think I’m quite good at making lasagne. But then I suppose that I would, wouldn’t I?’
Jennifer laughed. ‘OK. I’ll bring some wine and maybe something for afters,’ she said.
It was a couple of years since Jamie had seen Jennifer. When she arrived at the flat on Saturday night, she was looking fabulous. There was something different about her. Jamie couldn’t decide exactly what. But there was definitely something. Perhaps it was just that Jamie was now a bit older. When Jamie had been 15 and Jennifer had been 29, she had been almost twice his age. Now that Jamie was 20, going on 21, the age difference didn’t seem so great.
Jamie’s lasagne would have made an Italian nonna proud. And the macerated mixed berries that Jennifer brought for afters, was just the right combination of sweetness and sharpness. And then there was the wine that she brought: a deliciously smooth and tasty Cotes du Rhone. ‘We should do this more often,’ Jennifer said with a broad smile.
Jamie thought that they should do it more often too. He wasn’t quite sure how they got from the living room to the bedroom, but he did nothing to resist it. And then they must have both fallen asleep. One minute they were on the bed, cuddling and kissing, and, the next, Jennifer was trying to disentangle herself from Jamie.
‘I’m sorry,’ she said. ‘It must have been the wine.’
‘Umm … yes. I guess so,’ Jamie said.
‘Look, I should be going,’ Jennifer said. ‘It’s late.’ And she kissed him again — perhaps not passionately, but certainly with more than a little affection.
After Jennifer had gone, Jamie stroked up a serious stiffy and masturbated to the thought of what might, perhaps, have been.
When Jamie arrived home on Monday night, there was a postcard on the doormat. It was a black and white photograph of the interior of a French café. Jamie briefly studied the diners, half expecting to see Earnest Hemmingway or Henry Miller. On the back of the postcard, there was a message.
Thank you for a lovely evening. Perhaps if you are not too busy the weekend after next, we could try something French. My treat. J xxx
Early on the Saturday morning, Jennifer and Jamie took the train to Dover, where they boarded a ferry for Calais. From there they took another train to Paris. Jennifer had booked a room in a small hotel just around the corner from the Gare du Nord.
‘We have a table booked for seven-thirty,’ she said. ‘And the restaurant is only a 15-minute walk from here. That leaves us a couple of hours in which to do something else. Is there anything that you would particularly like to do?’ she asked. And, perhaps as a clue of what she would particularly like to do, she started to undress.
Years later, Jamie could still clearly remember that first time. He remembered how she had gently pushed him onto his back; how she had straddled him; and how her womanly cunt — which was so much sexier than anything that he had ever seen in a magazine — had practically sucked his stiff young cock kartal escort into her. And then later, after a thoroughly enjoyable supper, Jamie had his first doggy-style fuck with Jennifer kneeling on the edge of the bed. In the morning, they fucked again, missionary style. That was to be their last time. Well, it was to be their last time for a while.
‘No regrets,’ Jennifer said, as they travelled through the Kent countryside on their way back to London. ‘I’m glad that we did it. I really am. It was … well … it was perfect. But, on reflection, I think that it might now be fairer if I left you to find someone closer to your own age. Oh … and if you are talking to your mother, it’s probably not a good idea to mention that we were in Paris together.’ And she laughed gently.
Funnily enough, when Jamie went back to Dorset to spend a few days with his parents at Christmas, Jennifer was one of the first people that his mother mentioned. ‘We had a Christmas card from her. She said that she had seen you.’
‘Oh. Right,’ Jamie said. ‘Yes. She came to supper. I made lasagne.’
‘Oh, nice,’ his mother said.
‘Yes, it was,’ Jamie said, not quite sure whether his mother was referring to the lasagne or fact that Jennifer had been to visit. ‘It was very nice. Very nice indeed.’
‘What a shame that it didn’t work out with Howard,’ Jamie’s mother said.
When Jamie returned to Mackenzie-Marshall after the Christmas break, there was a new face — and a rather attractive face at that — on the reception desk. ‘Hello,’ he said. ‘I’m Jamie. I’m one of the copywriters.’
‘I’m Louise,’ the new girl said. ‘I’m just filling in. Diana slipped on the ice and sprained her ankle.’
As Jamie headed for the office the following morning, he was in half a mind to invite the new girl — Louise? — was that her name? — for a drink after work. But then, when he walked into reception, Diana was there. ‘Oh, you’re back,’ Jamie said. ‘How’s your ankle?’
‘I got bored,’ Diana said.
Jamie had just turned 21 when he met Christina. It was at a cocktail party to celebrate the launch of Designing Minds. ‘Come and have a free glass of fizz and meet some people,’ Dom Blazer had said. Dom was one of the media buyers at Mackenzie-Marshall. He was only a couple of years older than Jamie but he could sniff out a good party from half a county away.
Christina was a feature writer for one of the other Johnson Group publications: a trade magazine targeting the health and beauty sector. ‘Feature writer?’ Jamie said, looking at her name tag. ‘Gosh. You look awfully young to be a feature writer.’
‘Thank you,’ she said. ‘I’ll take that as a compliment.’
‘Umm … well … yes,’ Jamie said.
The second time that Jamie saw Christina she was standing outside the entrance to the Bond Street Tube station. ‘The green geese are flying west tonight,’ Jamie said, in what he hoped was a suitably-conspiratorial tone.
It took Christina a moment or two to remember who he was. ‘Oh? The green geese? West? Really? Well ….’ She shrugged her shoulders. ‘If you say so. But I thought that you were supposed to be carrying a copy of The New York Times and wearing a blue carnation in your buttonhole,’ she said.
‘Oh? Was I? I didn’t realise. But you may be right,’ Jamie said. ‘The instructions were a little vague. It’s so hard to get good spy masters these days. Perhaps I could buy you a cup of coffee and we could discuss the matter further. You know … see if we can come up with some sort of a solution.’
Christina smiled. ‘I can’t just now,’ she said. ‘Right now, I’m on my way to interview a famous hairdresser. But maybe later. I don’t know … seven o’clock perhaps? Something like that?’
They agreed to meet up for a glass of something at The Spread Eagle (known locally as ‘The Scruffy Chicken’).
‘How was your famous hairdresser?’ Jamie asked.
‘Weird. I certainly wouldn’t let him loose on my hair. Or any other part of me, for that matter.’
‘No? So what makes him famous?’
‘I get the feeling that he’s more famous for his parties than anything else,’ Christina said. ‘He knows everyone. Apparently. The Stones. The Bee Gees. ELO. Boney M. All the top models. All the star photographers. Also … I suspect that he makes more money from dealing drugs than he does from styling hair.’
‘Oh? Why? Did he try to sell you something?’ Jamie asked.
‘No. But he didn’t make any secret of the fact that he could get whatever I might want.’
Jamie smiled. ‘And what do you want?’
‘Another rum and Coke might be nice,’ Christina said. ‘But I’ll get it. What about you? Same again?’
Jamie looked at his empty glass. ‘Umm …? Yes. Thank you.’
‘Look … just so that we understand each other,’ Christina said when she returned with the drinks, ‘I don’t go to bed on the first date.’
‘Fair enough,’ Jamie said. ‘Although this is not really a date, is it? We’re just having a drink.’
Christina frowned. ‘Umm. I suppose so. You could look at it like maltepe escort bayan that. Yes.’
‘And so the rule doesn’t really apply, does it.’
‘No. I suppose not,’ Christina said.
Jamie’s first fuck with Christina was not quite as life-changing as his first fuck with Jennifer. But it was good enough for them both to want to do it again. And again. And again. For the best part of a couple of years.
There was no ‘arrangement’ between Jamie and Christina — either formal or otherwise. They both had busy lives. They were both trying to make in their own highly-competitive fields. But what spare time they did have, they tended to spend together: visiting museums and art galleries, walking in the parks, discovering pubs, reading poetry, and fucking. They spent quite a lot of their spare time fucking.
‘Are you two getting married?’ Dom asked one night when Christina came to meet Jamie at the agency.
‘Are we getting married?’ Jamie said, frowning. ‘No. We’re getting a curry. The Bombay Boathouse probably. Why? Do you want to join us?’
‘Yeah. A curry might be fun,’ Dom said. ‘Just as long as I don’t have to marry either of you.’
During his time with Christina, Jamie didn’t even look at another woman. Well, maybe just once. It was early the following summer. Jamie had called around to Murray Main’s place to see if he could borrow Murray’s 200mm telephoto lens and, getting no reply when he knocked on the front door, he went down the little side lane to the back of the house. Murray’s wife, Lynette, was sunbathing in the back yard. She was naked. Totally, totally naked.
‘Oh. Sorry,’ Jamie said. ‘I didn’t realise.’
Lynette smiled but didn’t make any attempt to cover up or anything. ‘That’s OK,’ she said. ‘Just enjoying the sunshine.’
‘Right,’ Jamie said.
‘So … do you like what you see?’
‘Umm … what’s not to like?’ Jamie said.
Lynette nodded. ‘We could go inside,’ she said. ‘You know … if you’d like a taste.’ And she slowly spread her plump outer labia — which were glistening from a recent application of tanning oil.
Jamie laughed. (And he hoped that he laughed in a warm and friendly way rather than in a derisive way.) ‘Umm … thank you. But I’m a bit rushed,’ he said. ‘Perhaps … you know … maybe another time.’
‘Another time? OK. Yes, I’d like that,’ Lynette said. And she nodded. ‘Just make sure that you remember. OK?’
But there wasn’t another time. A couple of months after the backyard encounter, Lynette and Murray moved to Spain, where Murray’s uncle had a bar and restaurant, and they lost contact with each other. However, the image of long, lithe Lynette — naked but for a layer of tanning oil – remained with Jamie for quite some time. And he had to admit — to himself at least — that on more than one occasion, while fucking Christina’s baby oil-slicked cunt he imagined that he was fucking Lynette.
By the time that Jamie met Maggie, he and Christina were coming to an end. That was in the late autumn of 1980. Christina had been promoted to features editor at the magazine, and, most weeks, she was spending at least a couple of days — and nights — up in Manchester.
Maggie worked in public relations. She was in town for an exhibition at Earl’s Court. Fred, who was Jamie’s boss at Mackenzie-Marshall, vaguely knew Maggie from somewhere, and he had plans to jump her bones. But he needed someone to distract Maggie’s client, Rosemary, with whom Maggie had agreed to have dinner.
‘Here’s the plan,’ Fred said. ‘The four of us will go and have dinner. I’m not sure where. But somewhere nice. And then I can take Maggie back to her hotel, and we can make the beast with two backs. A simple plan. But — I think you’ll agree — a cunning plan nevertheless.’
‘What about her client?’ Jamie said. ‘What about — what’s her name — Rosemary?’
‘That’s where you come in. You don’t have to fuck her or anything. Well, you can if you want to. That’s up to you. But, apparently, she’s staying with friends somewhere up in North London. Muswell Hill I think. Somewhere like that. You can just put her in a cab.’
Fred booked a table at Marconi’s. But, unfortunately, his cunning plan didn’t quite go according to script. Maggie soon realised that Fred was after her. (He was not exactly subtle about his intentions.) And she kept a safe distance. Red-headed Rosemary, on the other hand, made it quite clear that, that if Fred fancied a roll in the hay, she could well be a starter. And the more of the Portuguese rosé she drank, the more of a starter she became.
‘Gosh! Is that the time?’ Maggie said when they had finished their coffee. ‘I think that I should pull for shore. Perhaps you could walk me back to my hotel, Jamie.’
‘But of course. It would be my pleasure,’ Jamie told her.
It was only a short walk back to her hotel. But, given that it was probably about 11 pm when they got there, Jamie was all set to bid her farewell at the door.
‘Are you not coming up?’ she said.
‘Oh. Would you like me escort pendik to?’ Jamie asked.
‘Oh, yes. I get the feeling that you and I might be quite good together. It’s certainly worth a try, don’t you think? Nothing ventured ….’
She was right. Jamie and Maggie were very good together. Jamie’s tab A slid into Maggie’s slot B as though it was the most natural thing in the world.
Jamie was not really being promiscuous. He only fucked Christina a couple more times after that first time with Maggie. In a rather telling slip, on the first of those two occasions, about a week after the Maggie encounter, Christina called Jamie ‘David’ — which just happened to be the name of the magazine’s Manchester-based national advertising sales manager.
A week after that, Jamie had to go up to Leeds for a meeting. The meeting was on the Thursday. But Jamie took the Friday off and spent most of the day in Maggie’s bed. ‘I don’t suppose that I could persuade you to move down to London,’ he said.
Maggie didn’t move down to London. Well, not immediately anyway. And Christina came clean about her relationship with David.
When Jamie went down to Dorset to spend a few days with his parents over Christmas, one of the first things that his mother asked was had he seen Jennifer.
‘No. I haven’t,’ Jamie said. ‘I should call her. It’s just been a busy year.’
Jamie’s mother nodded. ‘It’s a shame that it didn’t work out with Howard,’ she said.
‘I’ll call her,’ Jamie promised.
Jamie did call Jennifer. It was in the first week of January. The woman who answered the telephone didn’t seem to be sure that Jennifer was available. ‘Who is calling?’ she asked.
‘Jamie? And will she know who you are, Jamie?’
‘Just tell that we’ll always have Paris,’ Jamie suggested. He could almost hear the woman frowning at the other end of the telephone line. And then he heard Jennifer’s voice.
‘Hello, stranger. I thought that you might have emigrated to Australia.’
‘No. Still here. Still in London. Just been a bit … well, you know … head down, nose to the grindstone. All that sort of thing.’
‘So no time to get into any trouble then?’
Jamie laughed. ‘How are you?’ he said.
‘Pleased that Christmas is behind us for another year.’
‘Yes. It’s been frantic. Good. But frantic. We took on a couple of toy ranges this year — well … last year now.’
They chatted on for a few minutes and then Jamie said: ‘I was wondering if you might like to get together. Catch up for a glass of wine or something.’
‘That would be nice,’ Jennifer said. ‘Yes. I’d like that a lot.’
‘Where are you these days?’ Jamie asked.
‘We’re still in Clapham. But I can get the Tube. I think that you have better bars in your area.’
‘There’s a new place just on the other side of Baker Street,’ Jamie said. ‘Vino Vino. Italian, I think. I haven’t tried it yet. But a couple of the guys from work have, and they seem to think that it’s pretty good.’ They agreed to meet up at 5:30 the following afternoon.
It had been just over three years since Jamie and Jennifer had last been together. Jennifer was three years older. And yet, to Jamie, she looked somehow younger.
‘And tell me,’ Jennifer said, partway through their first glass of red ‘is there a significant other?’
Jamie laughed. ‘Nope. Well … there sort of was. For a while there. But she got a better offer.’
‘Better than you? I can’t believe it,’ Jennifer said.
‘And you?’ Jamie said.
‘Too busy, I guess. Or perhaps too selfish. Too fond of doing things my way.’ And she laughed again. It was at that point in the conversation that Jamie knew that they were destined to end up in bed before the evening was out.
Vino Vino was a pleasant surprise. At a time when every new London wine bar seemed to be modelled either on a Parisian café or on the house bar of a five-star hotel, Vino Vino was all wooden floors and mismatched scrubbed tables and blackboard menus. ‘This place is fun,’ Jamie said as a long-aproned waiter arrived, unsummoned, with a bottle to refill their glasses.
‘It is. I like it,’ Jennifer said. She also liked it a couple of hours later when Jamie used his tongue and his fingers to take her over the edge. ‘That woman,’ Jennifer said, as her breathing returned to something approaching normal, ‘the one who thought that she had a better offer: she must have been mad.’
Jamie just grinned and prepared his cock for a return visit to where it had all begun on that late-autumn evening in Paris.
And then Jamie met Lisa.
Lisa was unquestionably posh totty. Her parents were major landowners, and her father was on the boards of several august organisations. Lisa was introduced to Jamie by a friend of a friend. ‘She has a degree in fine art and she’s looking for some freelance design work,’ the friend of a friend said. ‘I don’t know how good she is. Her stuff looks good. But it’s not really my field. She’s probably worth a cup of coffee though.’
Jamie arranged for Lisa to drop into the agency for a cup of coffee and a chat. But then his day turned to custard. ‘I don’t suppose that you feel like trading that cup of coffee for a glass of wine after work,’ he said when he called to tell her that the wheels had fallen off.
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