Going for gold

Have you ever wondered how much damage 100 ml of lukewarm hot chocolate can cause? Well, I’m about to tell you anyway. And yes, exactly 100 ml. It was a small, 200 ml cup that was half full/ empty (pick what resonates best with you). And so, without further ado, this small amount of sticky liquid went over

  • a chair (upholstered)
  • a footrest (upholstered)
  • a blanket
  • a pile of books
  • an airer with freshly done laundry
  • a radiator
  • a wall

and, finally, the floor.

But you know what remained dry and clean? Me. Why can’t I just pour everything down my chest as normal people do? No, gosh, why limit myself?! Let’s splash it over 5 square metres of vertical and horizontal surface!

Thirty five minutes of blotting, wiping, rubbing, wringing, mopping and cleaning. I now need to re-do the laundry, have the blanket dry cleaned, and consider re-upholstering the chair and burning the books. Psychological damage: immeasurable.

Everything now gives off a whiff of thick, sickly sweet smell. Think I’ll go for a walk. And hope that I don’t trip and break my neck.

Edinburgh escorts

Some of the things that enhance my life

I really don’t understand the appeal of cooking. Eating, however… Eating is a totally different business. If you want me as your girlfriend, all you need to do is promise to cook for me or take me out for meals till death do us part. Or till I grow up and learn to cook for myself, whichever happens first. Don’t give me that look! Which part of my pretty-for-pay site made me appear picky when it comes to men? Anyway, there’s a specific cookbook that I need (don’t ask. Seriously, just don’t ask) so I’m now visiting all the second-hand book shops* in Edinburgh. Today I went to my favourite one, and asked the shop assistant to direct me to the cookery section. A few turns and narrow passages later he left me in front of 4 shelves overloaded with books. For a gastrosexual like me, this is what purgatory looks like. But years of sex work do teach you to find pleasure in the least likely places.

An hour later, as I passed the shop assistant on my way out, he asked if I found what I was looking for.
– No, but I organised your cookery section. You now have wine and other drink books on the top shelf, the second one is for regional cuisine, the third one for all other cookbooks, and the last one is for baking, desserts and books that are about food but contain no recipes. And the two stacks of books on the floor are those that belong to other sections, mostly golf and architecture – one has to wonder… But they are for you to sort out!Edinburgh escorts
– Um… Thanks…

I walked out of the shop with a satisfying feeling of time well spent. CDO can be time consuming, but it gives you an eye for detail and brings the beauty of order to your life.

______________________

* I love books. Not as much as I love eating, but they are still dear to me. Unlike food though, I prefer my books pre-used: trees were killed to make them. I also try not to own books; a good book is a feeling, not an object, and you can’t own a feeling. A bad book – why would you want to own that? So once I’m done with a book, more often than not it goes back into circulation. Yet I have a shelf of books I received from my clients. These are memories more than they are feelings, and some memories are worth keeping.

Not Hamish

I’ve already mentioned HB to you – here – but he deserves a proper introduction.

A good way to describe HB is to compare him to Prince. The two men have a lot in common, but their approach to things is very different. In the regal paradigm of naming, HB’s title would be “King”. Where Prince glides through life with ease, grace and an air of insouciance, everything about HB is heavy, hard, solid, dead serious and set in stone. He even looks this way. The kingly image on the right is HB to a T – less high heels, stockings and raven locks, obviously. If he were to take on responsibility for an empire, every last stray dog in the realm could depend on him, but the place wouldn’t be fun. Edinburgh escorts' clientsFor the first half a year I was absolutely sure he has no sense of humour. The first time I saw him laugh was in February, during our Cornwall holiday. We were up early in the morning to be on time for Eden Project. I was still fumbling in my clothes, half asleep and grumpy, when he walked into the bedroom, all dressed, bright and breezy, with a smile on his face. ‘Oh stop smiling, it’s inappropriate before 10 am!’ I grumped*. And yes, he laughed – inappropriately, as you understand.

Our first date was quite late in the evening with no chance of a dinner out, so we’d agreed that we’d cook something. There was a small kitchen in his temporary Edinburgh home, I brought some vegetables, we made a salad and sat down to eat. All the while he was acting like this is completely normal. I’m not saying it’s not normal: people making a meal and eating together is one of the first things that made us different from animals, nothing is more normal than this. But when it comes to sex work, it’s not the sort of stuff you engage in on the first date. Most of my first dates are spent trying to reassure clients and make them feel comfortable around me, cooking only happened twice. I suppose it’s one of those things that people usually do in their family circle, and sharing it with a stranger is weird – far more weird than having sex with that stranger. But it wasn’t the last time HB showed that his line between personal from public isn’t that well-defined. The time when I had to explain it to him why it’s not ok to walk in on someone in the bathroom – even if you’ve already seen this person naked and even had sex with them – is proof enough.

And you probably want to know what HB stands for. Not Hamish Buccleugh or other hard to pronounce Scottish name. In fact, it’s not a name at all, but he does sign his e-mails as HB closer to our coming dates. Everything is simple. He got this nickname during our second date. It was a crispy cold November afternoon; I texted to let him know that I’m in a cab and should be there in 10 minutes.

HB: I’m waiting outside for you.

Jewel: Go inside, you’ll freeze your balls off!

HB: My balls are hot!! I want to greet you when you arrive.

Jewel: Well hello, Hot Balls!

_____________

* A totally valid claim.

It’s in the detail

I met HB in September. It was a curious date but you’ll hear more later. It was obvious that he looked forward to it. He dressed up (because my blog says I like a well-dressed man), he invested heavily in chocolate (because my blog mentions chocolate and so do I), and he clearly spent some time reading my blog – the telltale signs of a detail fetishist. I’ve already described a few of these here, I just didn’t describe them in detail. Now is a good time.

Body

This type of detail fetish is quite common is certain circles. The Nutter. Being a researcher, he had an eye for detail. And this eye was always open. Everything he saw was filed away neatly between his braincells, evidence was presented, conclusions were drawn, summary was printed in triplicate for each relevant department and the research abstracts were made available to me on request. He gave me the most intimate present I have ever received. A shirt. How is a shirt intimate? It was a shirt in my size, of my favourite shirt brand, with my favourite type of cuff, in a colour I often choose myself. None of these parameters were ever discussed. Moreover, when I asked “But why a shirt?” he said something that never occurred even to me. Because I’m a shirt-wearer. When I thought I was dressed, he thought of the patterns that made this type of behaviour different from that of specimens of corresponding gender, age and occupation. I freaked out, went and bought 2 sweaters. Half a year after we’d parted ways I had to admit that he was right. I’m a shirt-wearer.

Soul

Walter has a heart for detail. He may be unable to recall what I wore for our last date, but he always knows how I’m going to react to something before I decide if I even want to react. Walter made it clear from the start that much as he enjoys the carnal part of our relationship, its less physical aspect is at least equally important to him; but it was our (almost) totally social date that made me see the bigger picture. During lunch we talked about the potential sequel to my video. A few days before that a client had shown me a video of a London lady which I, of course, shared with Walter. Unfortunately, the video isn’t there anymore, but it was a minute long shot of a provocatively dressed woman, tracing the outline of her hips, showing some skin above the stocking and then playing with her cleavage. The film was really well made, sufficiently tasteful, revealing and yet preserving the lady’s anonymity. I liked it, but I simply could not imagine having one of these myself. The inner resistance to it was puzzling to me until Walter shrugged and simply said, ‘This isn’t you. The London woman is playing with the viewer, showing off her assets. You don’t do this. You express your sexuality naturally: the way you move, the way you smile… To show how sexy you are, a film needs to show you doing everyday things.’

Ah, to have spent years selling your sexuality and have a man tell you how you best express it…

Mind

This last variation of detail fetish is most probably a by-product of a long unhappy relationship, although I can personally attest that certain occupations can also influence its development. It doesn’t come naturally to HB, it stems from his desire to please – a natural desire, but because his natural abilities to fulfil it have never been appreciated and therefore cultivated, he developed a mind for detail. Once an object is chosen, he takes it upon himself to read every scrap of information that can be found. Every e-mail. Every tweet. Every blog entry. Even I haven’t read them all. He’s done it twice. What he can’t find information about, he asks. And he listens. I commented on a beautiful fan in a shop window and I received it a few days later. I mentioned that I particularly like a specific gluten-free snack, and now I’m given it every time I see him (yes, I always think of Pavlov’s dog, too). The most memorable experience HB provided me with was finding lambs for me after I said I’d always wanted to see lambs up close – you’ll have to wait for the details, I’m afraid. Of course I’m pleased, but I’m also touched. I’ve been blessed with wonderful people for clients and the fact that some of them go out of their way to please me is nothing short of miraculous. I must have done something seriously good in my past lives.

Edinburgh escorts

My restaurant business

It’s odd but this part of London I have not visited before. From the cab window I can see little boats and large willow trees, bridges above the canal and ducks in the water; everything in Little Venice looks cute and laziness-inducing even in the hail – up until the moment I suddenly think “And how is this different from the Water of Leith?”

I’ve lived in Edinburgh long enough to be unable to enjoy London again.

By the time I check in and unpack, the raging torrent outside turns into an ordinary rain and then disappears altogether; the sky is bright and clear blue and my mood is better. I put on my new grey jumper and set off to explore.

I walk down the path along the water for quite a while before I suddenly realise I’m in Paddington. By now it’s well past 6 so I pick a restaurant for an early dinner.

In front of me, a couple of empty tables away, a man is sitting on his own, nose in a newspaper, picking at something on a plate with his fork now and again. He raises his eyes from his paper and instead of looking at his fork he looks at me. I acknowledge his gaze. Half a salad later I catch his eyes on me again. I look back. He smiles. Must be the new jumper. I smile back. With pleasure.

He looks like someone who would work in Central London and live in Watford with a wife, 2 kids and a dog. Only he’s clearly just finished work and instead of rushing home for dinner he’s idly reading a newspaper in a restaurant and making eyes at a strange woman. Either not married or something is rotten in the state of Watford. His plate is long empty and he’s still there, looking at his newspaper.

He stands up eventually, picks up his raincoat and briefcase, and waves good-bye to me. I wave back. He leaves.

What an English way to go. Sometimes I wonder how this nation still reproduces. You see a woman, you show your interest, the woman reciprocates – what do you do? You leave! Why not come up to the woman and tell her that her smile made your dinner and that you’d like to buy her a hot chocolate*. Or at least pay for her salad. Ah, romance is dead…

Independent Edinburgh escortsBack in Edinburgh, a few days later, I’m having lunch at my favourite restaurant. The waiter, who had previously endeared himself so much by totally looking at my bum, brings me a hot chocolate. In the centre of the thick cinnamon-sprinkled froth I can see a little, uneven heart-shaped opening. Clearly custom-made, not a result of a mould or some froth-arranging device. An analogue of waving at me? Or just re-creation of something memorable?

* I sometimes have a feeling men don’t understand the concept of offering a drink to a woman. By buying her a drink you buy her time. If she accepts your offer, she agrees to give you her attention for as long as the drink lasts. This drink should be enough for both of you to decide if another drink is a good idea or if you’d like to move on. See, nothing scary! Yes, you two enter into a sort of social contract but it’s not a commitment to spend the rest of your lives together. Not even an obligation to exchange phone numbers. Just an opportunity to get to know each other a little to decide if it’s worth it.

————————————-

As you no doubt have noticed, I’ve been very quiet lately. August is a mad time anyway, plus I’ve been working on a personal problem so I didn’t have that much time left. I am sorry about any disappointment caused and I will try to resume the semblance of regularity on this blog. To make up for my online absence, I looked at some of the old drafts and here‘s a new old entry for your amusement.

Seduction, Act 2

Continued from Act 1.

I meet Walter in an Indian restaurant across the road from the theatre. At the table, we discuss the pleasures of oral sex. If right now you suddenly have doubts about having recently decided to get in touch with me to take me out for a meal, you are wrong but I understand. My aloo sag arrives and I try to tempt Walter with a little piece of it. He doesn’t like sharing food but he doesn’t like saying no to me either so the lesser of evils is chosen and I generously cover a little piece of potato with the spicy sauce and send it down his oesophagus. He says it tastes great. As I continue my lecture on cunnilingus, I have to use the stuff on the table (plates and utensils) to explain what the internal part of clitoris looks like. This draws Walter’s attention to my plate and he sees

– Cauliflower! This is cauliflower!

– Yes, it is, why?

– How can you eat it, it’s disgusting!

– You had a bit of it off my fork 5 minutes ago and you said you liked it. You did, didn’t you?

– It was cauliflower?! (some shock, doubt and mental turmoil) Yes, I did.

– Would you like some more?

– HELL NO!

– But you liked it the first time. Why say no to a bit of something you liked? Please?

So I generously cover another bit of potato with the spicy sauce and he swallows it.

– So? Is this cauliflower disgusting?

– No, but it doesn’t mean I’ll ever eat it again!

Just as any other reader, this is the first time Walter reads about my dirty tasty lies. Oh well. He wasn’t going to eat cauliflower anyway, whether I tell him the truth or not.

At 7.30 we make our way to the Playhouse and for the second time in a span of a week I enjoy “The Phantom of the Opera”. Walter, believe it or not, enjoys it, too! I wasn’t sure about it really until during the break when he turned to me excitedly and said: “Incredible! Did you see how they use the light!” Men will be men, I suppose, until they invest into becoming a woman. I have to admit, however, that everything about this new production (including the use of light) was quite impressive indeed.

It’s about 10pm when he sex trafficks me in his car to his hotel where he exercises even more violence against women by presenting me with a very thick envelope. I run the bath and we fool around a little, running around the room until he catches me, throws me on the bed and rips my lingerie off. This is the most playful I’ve seen him in years and if I’m honest, it was very endearing. The bathtub is now full and we dive in.

The can of whipped cream that Walter hid by the bathtub was not much of a surprise: Walter and sweet edible things go hand in hand. The real surprise was the fact that it worked! Almost 3 years ago a client wanted to play with cream so I got a can. It was the first time for him (and for me) and he was very curious. We tried very hard for about 20 seconds and then silently but mutually agreed to forget about it. I never saw him again and never used cream after that. Pity, because as I now know, that first time we didn’t use it the right way. The cream isn’t for eating! I mean, you can eat (lick, slurp, etc) it, too, but it’s not its main use! And it’s far better used in the bathroom than in the bedroom where we end up when we run out of cream. It’s quite early in the morning when I finally leave Walter alone and move into my separate bed.

A few hours later we stop pretending that we’re both sleeping. I rarely sleep during overnights because of unfamiliar surroundings, don’t know what was Walter’s problem. It’s still dark so we try talking to each other across the room from our separate beds. Does anyone know why and how being in the dark makes mature adults turn to whisper even when no-one around is asleep? It feels like little girls in the dormitory at night so I give up on sleep and sneak back into his bed.

At 10 I finally switch off. I don’t notice him getting up, making tea, pottering around, packing his suitcase, opening his laptop to send me a thank you mail and getting back under the duvet with me. He wakes me up eventually and cuddles some more, until the absolutely last minute when we totally have to get up if he is to be on time for his plane.

Walter gets off at the airport and I wave my hand as the cab rides off. Within seconds, a text from him arrives: “Miss you”. I get his present – “Maskerade”, Terry Pratchett’s spoof of “The Phantom of the Opera” – out of my handbag and open the book, hoping to divert my mind from the sudden feeling of loneliness. This ride home feels much longer than the actual 20 minutes.

Friends with a prostitute

I was touched by Walter‘s e-mail where he said he was sad for me that Mr French had left as I obviously liked him a lot. I think the first thing I learnt in prostitution is that men come and go while my savings account stays (which, frankly, would be good for all women to learn) but it doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate these men while they are around – this is the second thing I’ve learnt. The client – prostitute relationship may be paid for, but it’s still a relationship.

The night was rather cold for 2 September. The fact that I stood motionless wasn’t helping. The noisy crowd around me smelt of beer and cigarettes. The fireworks were totally worth it.

Independent Edinburgh escorts

The following day, 3 September, was beautiful: sky so clear and blue I suddenly realised that I hadn’t seen sky for a very long while now. And it was hot. Really hot. I’d say hotter than any other day this year. I went for a very long walk, keeping my camera eye on the sky. The walk took me past H(ugh)‘s home, not on purpose but simply because there are lovely views in that part of Edinburgh and he just happens to live there. Of course I thought of him.

Last time I saw him we had dinner at a Spanish restaurant, watched a film cuddled up together on his sofa and then I, abiding by the international rules and regulations of romantic dating, asked him for a pair of scissors and, in his words, invaded his (now former) privacy. The way I see it, just because his privacy hasn’t been invaded in the last 70 years, it doesn’t mean he should die not having seen what his privacy actually looks like. And the fact that his privacy harbours more hair than his scalp, face and ears together is the last straw. Anyway, that was mid-July, and I haven’t heard from him since except for an e-mail a few days ago, the subject line screaming “Hot balls!!!” Apparently, if you remove a thick and long natural covering, it gets hotter, not cooler. I’m not a physicist, so I’m not going to occupy my pretty little head with this nonsense.

About 20 minutes later as I’m walking home, my phone rings and – that’s right! – it’s H(ugh). Well, if he noticed the slight change in his balls’ temperature after my professional help (free of charge, by the way!), it’s only natural that now his balls will sniff me out within a mile and cower in fear. Yet he’s still willing to see me, yes, tonight if I’ve no other plans. He calls to book a table at a fancy restaurant close by and even checks with them that they have gluten-free stuff on the menu. Aww.

During the dinner he tells me how much he enjoyed the festival, the shows he went to see, such a pity he had to do it on his own. Under the table, I pretend to try to kick him and he moves his legs out of my reach quickly. The conversation moves to the end of the festival and the fireworks the night before. He tells me he had 2 tickets but couldn’t get anyone to go with him so went on his own.

This time I really kick him. Twice. And I make sure it’s hard. He winces and reaches to his shin under the table. Good. Now, if he gets 2 tickets somewhere, he’ll think of me, at least for as long as his shin hurts. The e-mail I receive after this date says that apart from the bruised shin and ego he’s now absolutely fine and it may seem daft, but he thinks of us as friends.

Whatever the society thinks of my profession, it’s far more honest than a lot of marriages out there. A client can have sex with his wife – for free. He can pick up someone at a bar – for very little. He can even go to see another lady (and if it’s in Edinburgh, chances are she’ll be charging less than me. I’ve looked around recently and it seems that I’m the most expensive prostitute here, which is sad, but hey, my parents can be proud!). Yet with all these choices he prefers to pay up to see me. I’d say it looks like he really wants my company. Likewise, when I agree to see him, he knows it’s because I really want to see him, not because he’s paying. After all, everyone pays. It’s up to me whom I choose to accept payment from and you can guess I’m rather picky. In marriages people can (and do) manipulate each other through finances, sex, feelings and kids. When my clients and I get together, it’s because we really want to see each other.

Farewell, August

Please excuse the 2 weeks of silence. There were good political reasons for that. No, the political reasons were actually bad, but they make for a good excuse.

The poll results

The festival poll was nowhere as popular as the weather one. Oh, the britishness of it! They’d rather talk about the weather than about the things that are fun. There were 13 votes altogether, exactly half of the weather poll results.

In case you forgot (as it’s been over 2 weeks now), the question was You and the festival time in Edinburgh are like…

  • Fish and water – you may try living without it, but you’ll fail. 0 votes. Pity.
  • Fish and fins – you can live without it but who wants such a life? 3 votes. One of them mine.
  • Fish and chips – you often go together but it doesn’t make your life longer. 1 voteI guess some people are just born enthusiasm-free.
  • Fish and the shore – you know it exists but you’re not remotely interested in it. 2 votes. Spoilsports!
  • Fish and umbrella – some find it useful but not you. 0 votes. I’m glad it was 0!
  • Fish and the critical period hypothesis in linguistics – what? where? 1 vote. The Fringe HQ need to invest more in their advertising campaign.
  • Why am I always the fish? 1 vote. A fair question which I don’t have a ready answer to. It just happened this way. Could have been anything really, from prostaglandin to an ingot, a fish just has more idioms and connections already available.

And the 5 “other” replies which are the real fun (in order of appearance): 

  1. Love the atmosphere, but trying to go anywhere on foot… Tourist Rage! Funny. I thought it was driving that gave people the tourist rage during the festival, as tram works on their own are bad enough, add the increase of traffic and… I went (as I always do) everywhere (work unrelated) on foot and didn’t have any problems, only fun. I mean, isn’t it fun when out of the blue you’ve got 10 people rubbing against you at the same time? And for free!
  2. Fish and strawberry sauce. We don’t mix well. Pity to hear this but great to see that the fish caught on.
  3. A fish who loves the festival but dislikes the shoal. Beautiful. Just beautiful.
  4. No! I don’t want one of your fucking flyers – and relax… Very cathartic, thanks. How often does it happen nowadays that a SMILING person comes up to you and GIVES you something? For FREE? In Edinburgh it’s only one month a year. I find it refreshing. 
  5. Fish and the bicycle – I’m in the USA so I miss the festival. You poor fish! Now you know where to spend next August.

And other news. Jewel’s news:

  • I’ve arranged a new photoshoot in October so new photos are coming! Probably not till early November, but you can start salivating right now: I don’t charge for anticipation.
  • Another big tour, not just a night in London, details here
Blog news:
  • I’ve shuffled and updated my Blogroll a little and as a result there are now 5 categories there, feel free to explore. Oh, and Blogroll is the thing in the column on the right, where I have links to other blogs and sites which I find either useful or amusing.
  • In view of the political changes mentioned above, there is a new page coming on this blog very-very soon. The sooner the better so I’m working hard in this direction.
  • And a new blog entry (dedicated to touring) out of sequence here.
Client news:
  • Do you remember my first Belgian experience? He was back to Edinburgh for the festival this year and although I didn’t get to see him again, he gave me his ticket for the show he couldn’t attend. How sweet is that! Thank you so much!
  • The ex-old nutter texted to apologise for his behaviour. “Diffidence in the presence of a beautiful woman comes easily”, apparently.

Still speechless so no title

So I’m cooking, and you know how I feel about cooking – it’s all here. You can imagine I’m already stressed. My phone beeps: I have 2 Twitter messages from 2 colleagues asking where we’re meeting in 2 hours (I won’t go into details of why they’re asking about it 2 hours before the meeting that was agreed on a week in advance because that story ain’t pretty either). I turn the fire down a little, go to the living room and open Google on my laptop to look up some bars. I’m in a hurry because

  1. I’ve a pot on the stove and it’s spitting water around and
  2. We now have 119 minutes left till the meeting, 118, 117, and some of us have a really long way to go.

Just when I find a place that looks good and is in a suitable location, my phone (the curse of the human kind!) rings. It’s a regular client who has been mentioned here, asking if he can see me. Unfortunately, I already have other plans for the time he initially has in mind, so we look at other days. He’s in a good mood, chats a lot, we go through possible places to go to for lunch and meanwhile it’s 109, 108, 107… I can’t text the address of the place to my colleagues because my shoulder is pressing my mobile to my ear, but my laptop screen is right in front of my eyes, so I copy the address line of the bar from the Google page and paste it into a tweet window while the client describes South Queensferry to me. Something is not exactly right here, but I’m not sure whether it’s the bar’s address, the funny smell coming from my kitchen or the idea of a Scottish village as this micro-paradise by the sea. I hit “Tweet” button on the bar address message to get rid of at least one stress factor, and run to the kitchen with my mobile still pressed to my ear.

We agree on the date and time for lunch, and I’m standing in my kitchen, thinking if I should keep the pot or throw it out together with the now well-fried rice that I most probably won’t be able to scrub off the pot bottom. Besides, all this lunch talk made me really hungry. At this moment my mobile beeps again, announcing another tweet message. It’s a reply to the address of the bar that I sent to my colleagues, but it’s not from my colleagues. Another second passes by before I swear loudly in my best French, turn to run to the living room to my laptop, half way there turn back to pick up my mobile from the kitchen table and hit it hard against my forehead as I reach my laptop at last. Here’s what we have in the all-public world of Twitter:

Prostitute #1: Are we still meeting at 4?

Prostitute #2: Sure, I can just about make it to Edinburgh on time. What’s the address of the place?

Prostitute #3: Bar Name, Full Address, Postcode, Edinburgh.

Wanker: Hello sweet ladies of pleasure!

I delete the address tweet and, wishing I could do something about the tweeting twit of a twat that I feel myself to be at the moment, I hysterically text my colleagues with apologies and the new address. As one of my favourite Johns on this blog says, there’s a limit to how much self-harm I can inflict.

Whoever said that women can multi-task has obviously not met that many women.

Now, having had the lunch at South Queensferry, I can testify that if South Queensferry had been warmer, sunnier and indeed in the South, it would have been exactly the paradise my client described to me on the phone.

Also, 2 new posts out of time line but in sequence: Fig. 1 and Fig. 2.

Safety-in-numbers syndrome

It’s about 7.30 when I come out of X hotel, turn round the corner, cross the road and go to the taxi rank at the bottom of the street. On the way I pass a restaurant where I once had dinner, also on my way from X hotel. Establishing a bit of a tradition is always nice, besides, I’m tired and hungry, so I open the restaurant door.

The waiter who takes me to the table smiles and says it’s great to see me again. Well, it’s one good waiter because I can’t recall seeing him here last time. He leaves me with the menu; I get my diary out of my handbag and look up the previous date at X hotel. About 40 days since I was here first time. Yes, a good waiter indeed. I then place my order, he smiles again and says:

– The same as last time, eh?

– Do you remember all your customers so well?

– No, not all of them, – he winks at me, turns round and goes to the bar, leaving me sitting motionlessly at the table, looking intently at the pattern on the table cloth. His wink reminded me of what happened here last time – which I totally forgot about. Men only have 2 faults: all they say and all they do. About 40 days ago…

…I entered that restaurant for the first time. I sat down, studied the menu, ordered something which the waiter remembers and I don’t, got up and went to the bathroom. In the cubicle, I took off my dress, opened my handbag, fished out my bra, put it on (yes, sometimes I leave hotels in a bit of a hurry), then the dress, and went out. On the way back to my seat I had to pass a group of men – all in their 40s, professionals in smart casual, loud, animated and in high spirits – sitting at a long table. As I was passing by, one of them, who was sitting with his back to me, turned around and looked at me. Not just a casual quick look, but an invasive long eye contact. I gave the same back. As I passed their table, all the men laughed loudly. I ignored them. Kids will be kids.

An hour later, I asked for the bill and went to the bathroom again, this time to actually use it. The men were still there, and on my way back to the main room the man did the same: went out of his way to turn round and stare me in the eye. As I pass them, they laugh again. And again other customers look at me with curiosity.

My problem is that I really don’t bear fools easily. They only act this way because I’m on my own (can you imagine them laughing at me if I were accompanied by a man?) and because there are 12 of them. I pay the bill and instead of heading for the doors I go in the opposite direction.

As I come up to the man who gave me the look, the whole group goes quiet. The man understands that something’s going on and turns round. The twelve of them are now looking at me in complete silence. He is sitting, so if I am to stand straight, I get the dominant position. But if I go down to his level (literally, not metaphorically), I get an advantage. So I smile, make one last step to the back of his chair and bend down slightly. Now my lips are close to his left ear and his nose is almost touching my cleavage. I regret having bothered to put on that bra, but too late now. “Hi,” – I say in his ear.

There was a number of things I thought he might do, but I would never have predicted this: he audibly swallowed, like they do in cartoons. Did you know it was possible at all in real life? He didn’t say hi. He just nodded. So I went on:

– I’ve a feeling there’s something you may want to tell me.

– I… er… Maybe… Could we go outside for this?

Seriously? SERIOUSLY?

– You mean you can make fun of a woman in front of your friends, but you can’t give your apologies to her in front of them?

Suddenly all his friends, who have been listening attentively, turn away and start talking to each other. Whether that was to give us privacy or to avoid embarrassment – I don’t know. He keeps on stammering, his eyes running from my cleavage to his hands and back:

– Apologies? I… I didn’t mean to… It’s your dress!

– My dress?

– Yes, your dress! It’s a very beautiful dress!

– So you saw me passing by and you turned to your friends to tell them that you liked my dress?

– Er… Yes, I’m sorry.

I’m not at all sure he’s feeling sorry about making fun of a woman, but I can tell he’s sorry he came to this place, and he’s sorry he tried so hard to show off in front of his friends who have now deserted him completely. That’s good enough for me: if he doesn’t do it again when with his friends, he’s highly unlikely to do it when on his own. I can tell he’d make a very good client: a man with his mates and the same man alone with a woman are often entirely different people. I straighten up and head for the door. No-one’s laughing this time. Outside, I get a cab and go home, and the following day the waiter is the only one to remember the incident: the man, I’m sure, is trying hard to forget it.