It happens for the first time, today. I’ve dropped my mum and daughter off at a playgroup, and I’m about to head to the car when I suddenly think….
I’ll go see nan, first.
I get halfway up the road before I remember that I can’t go see my nan.
The truth of this hits me so hard that I just stand there, looking at the pavement. I’m not upset: I’m totally in shock over the fact that, for just a few seconds there, my nan was back in the front room at Bellevue Road, drinking her morning tea, smoking cigarettes and watching Jeremy Kyle torture the less fortunate….and I forgot.
I actually forgot she was gone.
I just wanted a fight about Jeremy Kyle.
I was looking forward to it.
Immediately, I’m determined not to go home. I’m obviously in some sort of emotional turmoil, so I need to go and find a distraction: urgently. The problem is, all my friends are working today and my wife is desperately ironing out a new design for her jewellery company.
There’s nowhere for me to go.
I look up at the rooftops, and down the street towards Ramsgate town.
That’s when I see Matt.
I’ve known Matt for many years: he’s older than me, has a lopsided walk that he swears he inherited from his father and travels around Ramsgate using a hiking stick in a way that strongly suggests he should be claiming some sort of disability benefit instead of operating a forklift truck at an industrial warehouse, which is actually his regular occupation.
I shout ‘Hey, Matt!’ and I immediately see a look of complete dread on his face, a face that – I should probably point out – largely consists of a nose. I’m a member of the Big Nose Club, myself…but, unlike Matt, mine hasn’t yet earned me the nickname ‘Gonzo’.
He looks horrified.
Now, here’s the thing: I hate taking up people’s time. I have this really observant friend who once pointed out that, when I’m stopped in the street, I actually walk past people while I’m talking to them, turning and continuing the conversation as I back away.
I don’t like to be a burden, except occasionally during sex.
So, there’s Matt….and suddenly I don’t care that he’s obviously horrified to see me: I need to kill time with someone a bit special.
Matt is very special, and when I approach him he’s already screwing up his face and looking at the sky with the sort of expression that suggests he’s trying to think of an excuse not to hang around. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have time: I’m on him in seconds.
‘Hi Dave. Sorry about your nan, mate.’
‘Didn’t go to the funeral, because – you know – didn’t really know her and I hate funerals.’
‘Me too. Seriously: no worries. How’s it going?’
‘Yeah, same old. Loving your blog, by the way. How much of that weird shit do you make up?’
‘None of it. Listen: what are you up to now?’
He takes a second to answer, so I know he’s either meeting someone else or he just isn’t up for company.
‘I’m going for breakfast.’
‘That little cafe by the steps, opposite Madeira Walk.’
‘Fancy some company?’
‘Er…yeah, sure. Great.’
Matt is quite a serious spiritualist, and he isn’t hedging his bets. He worships a wide variety of gods, practises a few pretty strange religions and travels around the country taking photographs of rural churches and making grave rubbings to put with his increasingly strange collection of religious memorabilia. He’s quite a solitary guy, but – boy – does he love the unusual. It was Matt who first asked me to try out a Ouija Board, and Matt who didn’t talk to me for two months after I spelled out ‘The Hip Bone’s Connected To The Thigh Bone’ when he genuinely thought he was getting a message from his Great Aunt.
I think Matt is awesome, but I know he really doesn’t feel the same way about me. We were introduced by a mutual friend who we both really loved spending time with before he went off to live in Ellesmere Port. Now, we just sort of drift together occasionally.
But Matt is in a very strange mood today.
I’m asking him about his hobbies, what he’s up to, enquiring if he’s done anything off the wall recently…and he’s being really guarded and defensive, almost as if I don’t know him and we’ve never done all the crazy stuff we used to do together.
However, he lightens up at breakfast and it soon becomes clear that he’s got a day off and is quite excited about something.
‘It’s a woman, isn’t it?’
‘Well, yes. No. Sort of. She is a woman, but it’s not a date or anything and she’s married with kids, so no go there.’
‘Is she attractive?’
‘I’m only trying to work out why you’re acting so shifty: you’ve gone all red. She must be attractive.’
‘She’s quite attractive, but – seriously, mate – there’s nothing going on.’
‘Yeah yeah. So why are you meeting up?’
‘It’s not like that: it’s a professional thing. It’s costing me £20.’
‘She’s a prostitute!’
‘No, you dick! For £20?’
‘I don’t know the going rate.’
‘It’s not £20.’
‘How do you know?’
‘I just do.’
‘Whatever. Why are you paying this married woman £20 to spend time with you?’
‘I’m not paying her for that. I’m paying her to-‘
He doesn’t say anything else, just shovels in a load of bacon and eggs. Then he looks around the cafe as if someone is about to assassinate him, leans in close to me and whispers:
‘I’m going to get my fortune read.’
‘So what’s the big deal? You always do that stuff. Mind you, I remember you saying you weren’t going back after that last guy-‘
‘He was a palm reader. This is what you never understand, Dave: they’re all different. The bloke in Margate did tarot and the old girl in Cliftonville used tea leaves, but this woman is off on a new wave that loads of people are talking about. It’s more intimate, and gives you a better idea of-‘
Now I’m staring at him, and I know he’s seriously uncomfortable…but that’s it: I’m in the zone.
He stands up, cranes right over the table and whispers into my ear.
I look at him.
I frown a bit.
Then I say, out loud: ‘You’re joking.’
‘You just made that up.’
He shakes his head. ‘I didn’t.’
‘There’s no such thing as an arse reader.’
‘Look, I didn’t want any company today.’
‘She reads bum cheeks? For a living?’
‘It’s only £20.’
‘Yan can go to the doctor for free: he’ll stick a finger up there and give you a full reading.’
‘You think you’re so funny-‘
‘No, mate: I’m actually in shock. What is this woman going to tell you about yourself that you don’t already know by checking out your arse?’
‘Got enough for another blog, have you?’
‘I’m just trying to understand, dude.’
‘Do you have to take your underpants off?’
‘Of COURSE. What kind of a reading would I get if I didn’t?’
‘Funny guy. Actually, she can pick up stuff from your underwear…but it’s better if she looks at your body for the best result. I’m not messing around, Dave: you can think what you like. A mate of mine had it done a few weeks back: he got told some incredible stuff.’
‘Like what: there’s a strong chance of piles?’
‘No, dickhead. Stuff about his past.’
‘His past? Are you SERIOUSLY buying this? I mean, apart from a possible guess about what you might have eaten for lunch if you happen to fart….’
‘I’m not talking to you about this any more.’
‘Does she touch you?’
He just looks at me, and sips his tea.
‘Did your mate say she touched him?’
‘Sort of. He said he felt…something, but it might have been just the cold.’
‘I’m making an appointment.’
‘Don’t YOU DARE.’
‘This is why people don’t tell you stuff.’
‘Oh, come on, Matt. You’re taking the day off to get your arse read for £20. What if she makes contact with an old relative while she’s rooting around up there? You’re going to be terrified every time you go to the toilet in case you hear voices.’
‘Yeah? Well YOU talk out of YOUR arse….and then write it all down.’
Matt finishes his breakfast, and leaves the cafe. I can’t deny the fact that he’s done an awful lot to brighten up my day, and I reflect on the fact that if he’d told my nan, she’d have offered to do it for a tenner.
Rear Window was originally written by Davey Stone in 2015. For more posts like Rear Window, please follow the blog. All content is FREE and we appreciate the support. Thanks for reading Rear Window. Here are some other methods of historical divination!