On Saturday, Ken met Ellie. Ellie met Ken. They met. Each other.
On the phone:
Shane: So, tell me what happened.
Ken: Hmm, where to begin –
Shane: (quietly) Oh-
Ken: We met in the centre of MK, to get lunch at Waga’s –
Shane: Good - jealous already.
Ken: Yeah, it was good actually. I was just locking the car on the boulevard - outside the shops - when she came over and prodded me – she’d seen me and the green Beetle on Facebook.
Shane: She ‘prodded’ you – bit intimate for a first meeting isn’t it?
Ken: It meant that the first words I spoke to her face-to-face – or back-to-face – were ‘what the fuck’.
Shane: (amused) Classy.
Ken: Yeah. We small-talked our way into eating and drinking and left after about… an hour and a half.
Shane: Relaxed throughout?
Ken: Yeah, definitely. It was a bit odd – I made a joke about being a teenager when I last went on a blind date – bit risky, but I got away with it – she just laughed and started bombarding me about real dates and relationships, and how I got to be doing what I’m doing. (pause) In fact, for a while, she reminded me of you.
Shane: (pause) Laughter, blind dates and relationship talk, and she reminded you of… me.
Ken: She asked a lot of questions.
Shane: Ah. Right.
Ken: Mm. I was selective. She seemed to delight at my various relationship debacles.
Shane: As would we all, Kenneth.
Ken: Mm, but I didn’t hammer home the ‘don’t do distant relationships’ point, though I said enough to suggest the once burned et cetera et cetera thing.
Ken: Seemed appropriate.
Shane: Yeah – definitely, I’m sure you did good. (pause) Did, er… do you think that she might have –
Ken: I wondered what she was making of me – but I made such an arse of myself – bit too self-deprecating - that I assumed she thought I was alright, but a bit of an arse.
Ken: If you like.
Shane: Sounds like it was good though.
Ken: It was.
Ken: Then we went back to mine – or my parents’ –
Shane: Whoaaaaa –
Ken: She said she felt tipsy after sharing the wine –
Shane: And you took that to be ‘Green light – let’s get dirty’ – you whorey Ken!
Ken: (amused) I was doing her a favour – she couldn’t drive back.
Shane: (squirming) Urrrrrgggghhh.
Ken: It was quite dirty, actually - dirtier than I imagined it would be.
Shane: Oh fucking hell – I wasn’t… you weren’t… I wasn’t after that kind of - oh Jesus - ‘intervention’… I thought you were just gonna wax lyrical and talk to her –
Ken: We walked the dogs out across the fields and round the lake – it was filthy.
Ken: Walked for just over an hour, got back to the house, hosed down the dogs and wellies, and we… we… what did we do, Shane? We…
Shane: Very funny.
Ken: We had mad passionate sex all over the hou-
Ken: (pause) No, actually, we didn’t.
Ken: You shouldn’t be so quick to assume. If she’d have made any move I’d have probably gone along with it, but as it was it was just, y’ know, it was good, but it wouldn’t have felt right to… try anything.
Shane: Saint Kenneth?
Ken: (amused) Perhaps.
Shane: So you just walked dogs.
Ken: Yeah, and showed her the house, then we sat on the first floor decking –
Ken: - under the shade, and drank coffee as it began to rain. We were there for close to two hours. Just talking – mostly her – it was good. (pause) Mind, I couldn’t do that sort of thing every Saturday – far too big a ‘falling in love’ chasm to be stumbling into. She is gorgeous, and a bit witty and clever –
Shane: Like wot we like.
Ken: Just like wot we like.
Shane: Mm. (pause) Perversely, quite perversely, Kenneth, you describe one of the most romantic scenarios that I’ve heard in ages.
Ken: Mm. I have to confess, I did think about inviting her to stay - but I didn’t! Took her back to her car at half seven, said goodbye and good luck. Saturday over.
Shane: Will you be talking to Lily?
Ken: Reporting back, you mean?
Shane: You shame us.
Ken: I sent her a short email earlier – just said I don’t think you’ve got too much to worry about. I thought Ellie seemed to have her head screwed on. I also got the feeling that she knows that the Turkish thing has got a fairly short shelf-life.
Shane: Top man, Kenneth. If you’re right that counts as a star performance.
Shane: You sound a bit flat.
Ken: Oh. Just... worn out.
Shane: (pause) Kenneth?
Ken: Nothing happened – honest.
Shane: Mm, good boy.
Ken: (pause) Except -
Shane: ‘Except!’ ‘Except!’ What is this ‘except’ of which you speak? I was quite happy with ‘Nothing happened’.
Ken: Well, it was when I dropped her off. (pause) There was like a moment of quiet awkwardness as I – as we – said, y’ know, ‘goodbye’. And er, she just leaned across, patted my leg and sort of gave me a peck.
Shane: (pause) Maybe best not read too much into that?
Ken: Mm, maybe. (pause) But it was while I was facing her, so it was… on the lips sort of thing, and… it seemed longer than a ‘peck’ peck.
Shane: ‘Peck’ peck?
Ken: It seemed more of a ‘kiss’… peck.
Shane: (pause) Innocent affection and all that – wouldn’t give it much more –
Ken: And she closed her eyes and… it’ll sound a bit strange –
Ken: Well, she seemed to, er… ‘make a bit of a noise’.
Ken: A kind of… I thought it was… it sounded like a quiet groan – or ‘moan’.
Shane: Fucking hell, Kenneth! What happened to ‘nothing happened’?
Ken: I might be completely wrong, but for a split-second I think we both thought that we were gonna snog.
Shane: But you didn’t?
Ken: (pause) No, we didn’t. (pause) Maybe I – we – should have.
Presently, Ellie is en route to Turkey. Ken is in London.