Saturday, 5 February 2011

Men saying hello

I don't think I mentioned that two days ago, when hitching up the caravan to Fiona at home, a young man (well, late twenties) with a dog (a sensible hound) passed by and said hello.

'Hello,' he said in a pleasant way.

'Oh! Hello there,' I replied, from my ungainly crouching position over the cables and jockey wheel winder-up, with my hair all flying about in the wind.

He strolled on. The heavens rent, and sunshine burst through, and a voice spake.

'Lucy! You're not a strange-looking outcast. You're a person that dishy young men say hello to!'

Right. Wow. The thought stayed with me all the way to Salisbury. I'm still thinking of it. And yet how can this be? Here I am, approaching 60, well, 59 in July, not pretty, off hormones and not especially girl-shaped, or at least I don't feel that I am, and yet chaps are being damned civil to me. Wow again.

And why am I excited at the idea? Odd. I don't get it.

And last night. I was on my way back from a visit to Newport in South Wales to see my elderly auntie, not long out of hospital after a hip operation. I dearly wanted to see her, and this was the last chance for months. She knows why. A nice girl called Kathy was there to cook her lunch. We got on so well. After she'd eaten, P--- and I had a lovely chat for a couple of hours. Then I went over to her son R--- and his partner R---, just returned from a hospital visit herself, and needing to rest. 'Sit by me on the bed,' she said, and we had a good talk about how she was, and how I was, woman to woman really. She knows all about me. She thought the standards of female voice, looks, dress, behaviour and thinking that I was setting myself - a life beyond mere acting - were an incredible challenge, surely more than necessary? But for me, even if it took years, I wanted total success in my female role. No resting or copping-out. And already I must have become reasonably convincing. The kids, when they came in from the Welsh-speaking school in Pontypool, were so at ease with me. And they DO know, believe me.

It was dark when I set off for Salisbury. A long drive in high winds and spitting rain. By the time I was back in Wiltshire, I felt like being cosseted a little, and having a nice meal in some company. So I stopped at The Lamb at Hindon. Still mindful of my diet, I chose fish - a dover sole - with tiny new potatoes and savoy cabbage shredded up with little nuggets of bacon, washed down with a very good white wine, some water and a black coffee instead of dessert. The main man behind the bar was friendliness personified, gave me a nice table, and the watresses (this is a well-known dining pub) were so sweet and attentive. It did the trick. I felt great. Meanwhile a table in front of me - a late-thirties couple with three well-spoken young chidren, two of them in school uniform - paid me the sort of attention a smart (and still working) businesswoman would get. And then an older couple came in after me, sitting nearby to my right. The fifty-something man caught my eye, and gave me a pleasant greeting. I left via the Franklin Room, where several athletic young men were watching an international rugby match. They let me pass with respect. I didn't feel vulnerable, nor an intruder.

What does all this add up to? How much further can I push the boundaries of social acceptance? And if men are aware of me, and are willing to be polite and friendly - even when not taking money off me - what does that mean?

5 comments:

  1. That you have arrived.

    Caroline xxx

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  2. What a wonderful story! You are making such beautiful progress.

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  3. It means what you think it means!

    Lovely stories, Lucy. Funny about the mention of rugby. A friend just posted a blog entry about being a rugby widow this weekend. Apparently it's the Six Nations cup, and her boyfriend is rather occupied with watching it.

    Sometimes that's what men do. :)

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  4. None of this surprises me, Lucy. Having sat with you in a pub and a restaurant I can confirm that you are most definitely, irrefutably, undeniably... a woman. I could never imagine you as anything else.

    Angie x

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  5. You know you are very pretty Lucy. I think I'd get all excited too if a dishy young man noticed me - even just to say hello.

    I agree with Caroline

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