Thursday, 29 March 2012

London Tales by David Edward

Another wander into the library and another title picked on a whim, this time London Tales; a collection of short stories and little vignettes from the city, which are thought provoking and troubling at the same time.


In the story Adult Education, a conversation takes place between a young woman, Sabrina, and her employer, Lindsay. Lindsay, in her thirties and a heavy drinker, is just about to go away and Sabrina is finishing her last day at work, although the nature of that work is never made clear:

The living room door opens and Lindsay walks in with her handbag sandwiched under her arm and dragging two wheeled suitcases behind her. Sabrina watches in silence as she leaves the cases in the middle of the room and steps over to the wine rack in the corner... Lindsay examines the label on a bottle of wine. It’s the third she’s opened in a couple of hours.

Lindsay appears to have acquired the drinker’s habit of putting the world to rights, and she decides to tell Sabrina how things tick:

“Thirty-five years old. Three ex-husbands in six years; childless; a tendency to drink more that any sensible person should – take more risks than any sensible person should. But one thing I do know – one thing I’ve found...” “OK, here it comes.” “...is that, while constancy to causes may be a good thing, sometimes – just sometimes – constancy to individuals, especially young guys, seldom leads further than the bottom of a JD bottle. That’s all I’m going to say.”

Divorced and currently single, Lindsay needles Sabrina about her relationship with her boyfriend Cyrus. Lindsay it seems, is hedging her bets on the bottle:

Lindsay gives up on the selection in the wine rack and heads into the kitchen. She returns with a bottle of vodka in one hand and a full glass in the other. She slumps on to the sofa and, with her free hand, she opens up her handbag.

She is now determined that Sabrina should join her on a last night out together before she leaves. While Sabrina tells her that she won’t go, Lindsay bets that if she were alone with Cyrus, she could seduce him in seconds:

“You started drinking too early. I’d better go.” Sabrina rises to her feet. “Yep. Best to run perhaps.” Sabrina checks her phone and lets it fall into her leather tote bag. She moves slowly to the door. “You seriously think you can get my Cyrus to go for you?” she asks, with a teasing lilt in her voice and casually turning to Lindsay. Lindsay gives her a fixed stare. “That’s clear.” “What’s clearer is that you’ve been on the sauce too long.”

Sabrina reluctantly agrees to put her boyfriend to the test and sends him a text message to tell him to come around to Lindsay’s house. She leaves Lindsay, looking like a geriatric stripper as she ladles out the snorts, and hides in the back room. Cyrus arrives and is offered a drink by an over accommodating Lindsay:

She says nothing for a while, but saunters back to him, glass poised between her fingers. “The moment’s all we have in life,” she eventually says. “Just the moment.” She hands him back his drink, this time with ice. “You’ve got to grab it.”

He certainly makes a grab for it. And as Sabrina comes into the room to remonstrate, things get more than a little out of control...

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