The 30th of December. Ah yes. The night of one of Radge's greatest romantical misadventures.
Seven years ago it was. I was a pup at 23, a pup, an innocent who had all too rarely crossed swords with the female kind. 2001 was one year into my working life but it was still the era of 32A, of boozing and the 'staring wall' and freeing up my bed for the lads and their conquests. I, you see, got none.
Barren as they come, old 2001, but there was to be one saving hurrah before January came with all its craven promises. It came in McGowans.
We lived fairly close to the Coppers of the Northside, so would venture forth from time to time to partake of the late drinking and shit music. This night it was myself, Johnny, Kev and Austin.
I think it started in Hedigans but they fucked us out early, so we did a headcount and got a taxi. I remember Rick Astley was playing above our heads in glorious stereo, so I frowned, died a little bit inside and ordered a pint.
We went upstairs where the ladies lay waiting. Waiting for what, I hadn't a clue. I was just happy to mind the jackets and become one with the bathroom floor later.
Then she appeared.
I was talking to Austin at the time. When she approached I was full sure she had him in his sights. He's a publican, an older man in a peer's body, so I figured a lady of her obvious vintage would look to him for maturity and coitus. Not so. She dismissed him enthusiastically and clung herself to me like a wrinkly adhesive.
She wanted to know everything about me. Where I was from, what I did, this and those. In my naivete I thought at the time she was... well... I didn't know what to think but I was on my way and glad of the attention.
Then she kissed me. "This is new," I thought, unfamiliar had I been to the female advance for a long time previous.
"But wait," I thought on, "she's old enough to be..."
"I'm 40," she said. "How old are you?"
"I'm 29," I lied, like she cared.
I was getting used to her very quickly indeed, a story to tell the boys at the least, a fucking bit of action, finally, at the most.
"So tell me about yourself," I swarthed, suddenly comfortable in my dotage.
"Well, I'm Hillary. I'm married, well, I'm separated. I'm here with my nephews."
I saw three lads looking on, pretending not to be looking on. They were obviously older than me.
"Yeah, my nephews. I go out with them all the time. You've bleedin' gorgeous eyes..."
I was getting a bit anxious, my gorgeous eyes looking to my boys for safety but they were nowhere to be seen. Austin had long since fled.
"Yeah, they're me nephews anyway. I like goin' out with them. A bit of fun now that I'm not with that bollix of a husband. Twenty five years I was with him."
"Twenty five years you s..."
"Do you have a girlfriend?"
I lied again.
"I do, yeah. She's at home."
"What would she make of you kissing older women in McGowans?"
"Well she's very permissive about stuff like that." I was getting confused. I had to invent a whole person in miliseconds.
"Is she permissive about anything else?"
She kissed me again. I broke away from her subtly.
I was doing the maths.
"Just that if your girlfriend wouldn't mind, I could come back to your place. I'd be gone in the mornin', just a bit of fun, like."
"Ah I don't think she'd like that now."
"Ah go on for the craic," and then the killer line, "you could do a lot worse than old Hillary."
If ever a sentence whacked me back to sobriety, that was the one. I put on my jacket, figured the lads could look after their own fucking coats for a change, and legged it.