Sunday, 1 June 2014

The new barmaid

Ah, I do like it when the reception at a Club Site is more than usually pleasant, and they call me Mrs Melford as a matter of course. As if it can be taken for granted that, as a lady caravanner on her own, and clearly not labouring under any kind of emotional distress, I must be either long divorced or long widowed; and clearly settled into an independent mode of existence in which I am Getting The Best Out Of Life while I can. Which is more or less how it actually is. And no point whatever in correcting the title to Miss.

And since everyone here at Chester Fairoaks Caravan Club Site seems chatty and exceptionally friendly, the title might best not be Miss. Any kind of unattached woman could of course represent a potential annoyance to a caravanner's wife, but an Unequivocally Free and Unmarried Lady might be expected to fascinate men of a certain age and disposition. I am always aware of just how careful one must be to stay within the limits of Caravan Club propriety.

So when not one, but two, middle-aged chaps rushed forward to help me after I messed up reversing onto my pitch, I was gushingly thankful, and as ditsy as any man could wish, but I didn't overdo it. I was conscious of one wife's eyes on me as I got set up. I made sure that I looked efficient, capable, sensible, and anything but alluring. Though how I could possibly be considered a Femme Fatale beats me.

Then, because it was warm and humid, I changed out of travelling leggings and emerged again in a plain white summer top and long blue and white check cotton skirt. Not the attire, surely, of a vamp. But I think it got noticed, most female caravanners treating their menfolk to cropped trousers at best.

Well, two or three passing men made jokey comments as I began to wash the dust off Fiona. I dare say they hoped I would bend down to do the alloy wheels, and give them some bosom, but I foiled them with a long-handled brush. Demure, that's me.

But even men with wives at their side couldn't resist an exchange as they strolled by. A simple greeting would have sufficed. I got something that was undeniably car-related, but subtly ribald. In front of the wife too. I laughed. We all laughed. But it wasn't good.

The trouble is often the wife herself, who will in all genuine friendliness smile at me, and say something nice - on which the husband might then build a short but half-cheeky conversation. It doesn't overstep the mark by any means, and it isn't in the slightest bit offensive, nor intended to be, but it's unnecessary. I don't look for it, and although it's nice to be noticed, of course it is, I feel mildly peeved at being thought the sort of woman who appreciates inane banter, when, after all, I'm doing something completely ordinary and unremarkable. I certainly don't want to be treated like the barmaid in some boozy pub or club. Even slightly. But I suppose it may simply go with Independent Lady territory.

I wonder what they would say if they knew my full personal history?

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