Friday, November 6, 2020

The Lockdown Book Club - Chapter 2

Yesterday, your options for voting were...

What has Kate brought for lunch?

1. Sandwiches

2. Champagne and strawberries

3. Pasta in Tupperware

4. A complete high tea

Those options hid the following repercussions:

  1. Sandwiches (the sea spray makes them disgusting, they try and eat them but it’s gross. They laugh a lot. Kate asks him out but he says no because her suede boots are impractical)
  2. Champagne and strawberries (He is baffled, eats some of the strawberries. She gets sozzled on the wine and then can’t drive home. Polly has to collect her.)
  3. Pasta in Tupperware (She can really cook - it’s delicious. He shows her how to fish and she thinks it’s extremely boring but finds him quite charming. They agree to a second date.)
  4. A complete high tea (He laughs so much when she produces a tea pot and says she thought there’d be a kettle on the boat that he drops his rod over the side. They both take umbrage and go sulkily home. Kate goes home to nurse her sorrows but gets a call from Polly to see if she can babysit)

Chapter 2

Kate nodded, glad now that she hadn’t followed through on her more elaborate plans for lunch today. She shuddered at the thought of the bottle of champagne currently chilling in her fridge and how ridiculous it would have looked had she brought it.

She pulled the Tupperware box out of her bag and opened it up to add some oil and give it a stir.

“Ooh, that smells good.” Said Graeme, “Makes you hungry the sea breeze doesn’t it?”

Kate nodded but didn’t really agree. It made her feel nauseous and small. If she’d known it would be such a small boat she never would have agreed. Those big shiny white boats back in the marina probably didn’t bob around this much, and even if they did she’d have so much champagne in her system by now that the bobbing from each would be cancelling each other out. Perfect.

She stirred the pasta round and then divided it into portions in the two enamel bowls she had bought when retro camping chic was a thing and she’d been in that cookware shop. Miserably, she scooped 3/4 of the pasta into Graeme’s bowl and kept the smaller amount for herself. God being a woman sucked. Periods and nowhere near as many calories in a day? Just not fair. She passed the bowl over and took a mouthful of her own food; making sure it was a small one so she could make it last as long as possible.

“Oh my god! This is amazing!” Graeme exclaimed, looking wide eyed at Kate. She blinked back, a little astonished at his enthusiasm.

“Is it?”

“Yeah! What’s in it?”

Kate thought back the the night before when she’d prepared it… “Erm, I don’t know really… garlic, shitake mushrooms, a bit of spice, some truffle oil, basil, pine nuts… I can’t think what else, I wasn’t paying attention.”

“You’ll have to give me the recipe.” Graeme said, popping another mouthful of pasta past his teeth and grinning. Kate had to smile, despite the basil stuck in his teeth.

“It’s just thrown together really.” Kate said, feeling a bit shy at this much attention on her cooking.

“You made this up?” Graeme looked like she’d just told him she knew alchemy.

“Well, yeah - it’s just… I mean, I suppose - yeah. Yeah I did.”

Kate was a good cook. More than a good cook. It just all felt very natural in the kitchen - smells and tastes and ideas came together. When she settled into the kitchen to put something together to eat it was usually the only time of day when she didn’t feel insecure. In the kitchen there was no little voice on her shoulder questioning her, no worry that she should be further along by now. She was just doing and not thinking. Cooking was great. She should remember not everyone could do it more often. It was a special thing to be able to cook. Just because Polly didn’t understand the difference between a fresh cooked meal and an M&S microwavable didn’t mean cooking didn’t have value.

“That’s amazing.” Graeme said, scraping the last few bits of pasta off the bottom of his Tupperware and settling back onto his bench. The boat rocked alarmingly and Kate watched sadly as her last piece of pasta flicked off her fork and into the sea. Please attract a shark so I can just die now and have this over with. She thought morosely.

No such luck: the pasta bobbed tauntingly on the surface next to the boat; advertising its freedom while Kate was still sitting in the little wooden purgatory.

“Well, now I’ve seen your talents, shall I show you how to fish?” Graeme said, and Kate found she was warming to him. He seemed kind, and enthusiastic, but my god why was he so keen to get a rod in her hand? Kate snorted as that sentence unravelled itself in her head in all its double entendre glory.

“Oh, well, if you’d rather not…” Graeme looked down at his feet, feeling the snort aimed at him and losing his sunny demeanour.

“Sorry! No! I had a… a never mind. I think something flew up my nose. Yes please, I’d love to learn how to fish. Is it difficult?”

It turned out it was not difficult. It was, however, intensely boring. The key to fishing was: to put the floaty bit in the water and then sit and wait. How anyone thought there was skill involved was completely beyond Kate. Unless the skill was just how successfully you could switch your brain off and pretend you weren’t freezing cold and wishing you were at home? Kate wondered if it would be weird if she attempted to fish for the piece of pasta she had lost. At least she knew she could probably catch that.

“The skill comes when a fish bites.” Said Graeme, seemingly completely relaxed and laying back in the boat watching the horizon. What was he thinking about? How was he thinking for this long without getting sad? Maybe she should turn a podcast on to help them both block out thoughts? No, she felt like that would be a bad move. Ok, so, if this date was just sitting in silence watching the sea she needed to get through it. Pulling her phone out was not an option…

  1. She would look like a teenager
  2. There was probably no signal anyway out here
  3. If her phone went the same way as the pasta and she had to borrow money from Polly for a new one (again) then she’d be furious with herself.

So no phone. Kate amused herself instead by turning fishing into something she could enjoy: shopping. She ran her mind over all the different catalogues on her coffee table and thought about all the different items in there that she’d previously discounted but now might be worth buying if fishing was on the cards for her future.

She eyed Graeme. He had a good physique - looked like had strong arms, a little lazy on leg day but nothing she couldn’t work on when they had their His n Hers gym memberships. Hey, that would be good: that would shave another £15 on her monthly outgoings and get her a little bit closer to being within Polly’s budget. Or, it would give her an extra £15 a month to spend on fingerless gloves, and a waterproof phone cover and a really lovely wax jacket like the ones they had on Made in Chelsea. And she’d be able to afford to buy them all from lovely independent retailers so she didn’t have to feel guilty every time another parcel turned up on her doorstep.

The hours literally crawled by. Kate could see them pulling themselves along the waves: clawing at the gentle bumps in the ocean and heaving themselves closer and closer to a point where she didn’t have to be in this boat any more. Perhaps she’d put that £15 a month towards getting Graeme a better boat so they could fish in a bit more luxury? How much could those yachts possibly be? The thought of ordering a tonne of yachting catalogues when she got home gave Kate a little buzz.

“Well, doesn’t look like anything’s biting.” Said Graeme, and Kate blinked in surprise having almost forgotten he was there. He was a very quiet man and didn’t seem to find silence uncomfortable at all. Practically a psychopath. “We’d better head back in before we lose the light.”

Graeme picked up the oars and began pulling them back in towards the marina. Yes, very good arms. Kate thought; delighted the date was finally over.

“I’d love to see you again.” Graeme said, as he finished tying off the boat and turned to look up at Kate. Kate’s legs felt all wobbly on the still earth and she wondered if there were shoes you could get to help with that? It went on her mental shopping list. She thought back over the afternoon; how long it had seemed, how cold and how frightfully boring. God she couldn’t go through that again. Her phone began buzzing in her pocket. She glanced down to see a text from Polly.

“Could you have the kids next Saturday? Ry and I are going to a dinner. Thanks babe x”

“I’d love to see you again,” said Kate, looking back up from her phone decisively, “Next Saturday ok?”


If you would like to influence how the story goes from here, then you can vote in the comments below for one of these options...


What does Kate do for a living?

  1. Work for a big company that makes and distributes cleaning products
  2. A receptionist for a dentist
  3. IT Technician in a university
  4. Doctor

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