On Tuesday evenings, EldestGirl goes to Rainbows, and I kill the hour, happily for the most part, firstly at Waitrose, filling my trolley with yellow-stickered reduced goodness, and secondly, sitting outside – if the weather allows – with a coffee, reading until it is time to collect EldestGirl.
I am fairly inconspicuous. I have observed the past that strangers in the street don’t always notice me. I am fine with this.
Today I chose a bench where a young woman was sitting in the sunshine with an older man, who transpired to be her father. I cracked open my Waitrose magazine, and started to read.
“So of the three potential fathers,” the young woman started. My ears pricked up. My Waitrose magazine could wait until another day.
“Of the three potential fathers,” she said, “one of them is this guy.” She showed her dad a picture on her phone. Wow. A progressive relationship with her dad here! I was simultaneously horrified and impressed. He took it totally in his stride. If anything, he looked a bit uninterested.
“He’s hilarious, Dad” she said. “He’s like a five year-old trapped in an adult’s body.” Great. Just want you want from the father of your baby.
I took a sneaky sideways peek at her. Totally flat tummy, incredibly athletic looking. It must be really early days for her. Perhaps this was the first time she was telling her dad.
“And then the other potential father is…” she paused whilst fiddling with her phone. “This guy. Now he is really looking forward to meeting you because he’s best friends with Sarah, who you met last time you came to visit.” Her dad seemed very slightly more interested in this possible father to his unborn grandchild.
“And this is the last one,” she said, scrolling to yet another photo on her phone. “He is gay.”
“How can he be the father if he’s gay?” asked her dad, and I’m really pleased he did, as I was wondering the exact same thing, but thought it impolite to ask – what with not technically having been invited to join the conversation.
“Well, he was always camp, but he sowed his wild oats before deciding he preferred men.” Which, going by the non-existent pregnancy bump, I could only imagine was pretty damn recently.
I was agog. Agog. This is simply not the sort of conversation one expects on the bench outside Waitrose, by the Waterside Theatre.
“He’s the guy I dance with most during the second half,” the young woman continued. I didn’t understand. I strained my ears a bit harder. “So we’re doing two weeks here, and then transferring to Manchester, and then we’re going to Singapore after a couple of weeks off.”
I glanced up in the direction of the Waterside Theatre. I saw the advertising banners for a production of Mamma Mia! (Despite loving ABBA music, the movie of this musical remains the only movie that has ever given me an actual migraine. I have never attempted to see the stage version.)
It dawned on me, not as swiftly as one would have hoped, that the lady was an actor, and was describing the musical’s plot to her dad.
I returned to my Waitrose magazine.