I go there once a week on Thursday afternoon’s with what I call my spending money. That is the money which is not taken up with just surviving, although that makes me far from unique I know. Down at the club you will meet every kind of couple, happy and sad, angry or merely contemptuous, loving, gentle or blissfully unaware of their partner’s misery. In fact you’ll meet the human race, metropolitan style, excepting almost every story begins with “I used to” because very little happens now apart from organised games of bingo or cards which, let’s face it, just says you’re past it more than anything else can do.
Me, I sit at the bar mostly, sipping on a husbanded beer, swapping remarks with people I recognise, friendships are harder to grow after a certain age, and lusting in my hopeless way after Penelope of course, who is not interested in me, and has not been these three years. Not that I’m capable of expressing my interest in her on any physical level. Not to worry, being passed by in life, by people off to the shops, or restaurants, theatre’s or their weddings is what I’m all about. Invisible really, but always good mannered I assure you, that is one standard I insist on. You’ll never hear me shouting or expressing a crude appetite.
Anyway, enough of me, or you’ll be calling me “self-centred,” which is so true it hurts. At the Fossils Club, as I’ve said, the normal start of any sentence is “I used to” or “We used to” for those couples both of whom are still alive and can admit to enjoying each other’s company. And after that phrase come the careers and hobbies, “Be an accountant,” “Run a betting shop,” “Walk the Pyrenees,” or “Sail single-handed across the Serpentine Lake in London’s Hyde Park.”
Those of us not lost in daydreams or envy nod our heads in admiration. (Admiration of others is one of my talents by the way, along with envy if I’m to be honest: something I hate ) and if the conversation lulls, one of those who know me better than most might ask me “What about you Michael” and I will always say, I’ve applied to become a barrister, or I’m training to be a structural engineer, or any other profession I can think of, the entrance to which is unlikely given you are nearing your seventieth year.
But I don’t mind, because I’ve earned just enough to sit by the window in my lodgings out of the rain and live in daydreams. Daydreams are good you know, because in them Penelope always smiles at me and says “You know I like you” and someone from a major publishers knocks on the door and says “We demand to publish your manuscript” and holidays are enjoyed without the bother of leaving your recliner. In my imagination I’m just loved for who I am. In my imagination I will never be short of breath and the possible is just the start of my new life.