I couldn't take my eyes off her. She was stood outside by the corner of the pub waiting for her boyfriend as Martin and I sat on a bench under the sun, catching up over a drink.
I couldn't have been happier. I'd left my damn job early to cart my luggage to Pete's (referred to earlier in this blog as "Large Northern Flatmate", then "Large Northern ex-Flatmate"). I was staying at his house because we had an early start the next morning. Due to Pete's fear of flying, his mate Dom was driving us all through France and down to Spain.
Not Martin, though. He just lives nearby, and with ten looming days spent mere inches from Pete's mouth, I was keen to delay that never-ending monologue for as long as I could. Martin meanwhile was normally quite entertaining, but I wasn't listening to him. I was too absorbed stealing occasional glances at the goddess nearby. I gave a little internal shrug when her boyfriend and his mate turned up, but I noticed as they sat at a nearby table for a chat that they weren't that close. In fact they were more like acquaintances, and when they left soon after, the girl stood up to once more hand out leaflets I hadn't noticed before. My god, maybe she was single? She was so my type of woman, with gorgeous, coffee-coloured skin and light curly hair, and a body so voluptuous that I'd gladly jog into ISIS-held Syria dressed as a rabbi just to see an etching of her naked silhouette for twelve seconds.
And then I felt aggrieved. Some passer-by, a Jeremy Corbyn lookalike in a flat cap, had stopped her to chat and from what I could make out, it was nothing to do with the gym she was promoting. In fact he seemed to be raging about gay pride in an irrelevant and slightly snotty way, and he continued to bang on about it for ages. My future wife in a parallel life (the life where I also win seven lotteries and have a foot-long penis) was too nice to tell him to fuck off, and I considered saying something myself.
But I didn't; that would've made me an arsehole. Instead I let him get on with it, and when he did leave forty-five minutes later, I started clapping when she caught my eye.
It turns out there's a magic formula to get beautiful women to talk to me; I just need greying homophobes to bore them for nearly an hour. That way, and only then, my presence becomes as alluring as Colin Farrell handing out free Malono Blahniks in a beauty salon.
She even sat down at the next table to chat animatedly. She had a beautiful smile, and as I made her laugh, I realised I was at the top of my game in that magical one-and-a-half pint witty zone; not so drunk that I'm slurring, but drunk enough to have funnied away my insecurities. Plus I felt incredible; I'd no work for nearly two weeks, and 100% of holiday all ahead of me. She soon returned to handing out leaflets and I came back down to earth a little... until she got bored and came back to chat.
I. Was. On. Fire.
It occurred to me to ask for her number, but I'm not a giant swaggering cockring and in any case, Martin wanted to eat and it was probably wise to quit while I was ahead. We left for chips, where I encountered regular ladies who were back to being aloof. I was properly drunk now, but by pub three I felt guilty too as I assumed Pete and Dom were waiting.
In the end I bade Martin a farewell and raced over to Pete around 10-ish, but Dom still hadn't arrived and Pete looked thoroughly indifferent as he picked his nose in front of the TV. We had a benign chat. Pete was boring and sober but fuck him! This was it, the beginning of my holiday. I'd even brought along some chilli nuts and a 4-pack of beer, though I'd left my bloody condoms at home.
I wasn't unduly worried. For a start, those condoms were Best Before 2010 and besides, I'd a sneaking suspicion that zero johnnies were the least of my worries.
Part of me knew that I'd just had the best experience I was going to get with a woman all holiday.
And I hadn't even left Greenwich yet.
Coming soon: Summer Holiday #2