So in short, I'm not half as big as I think I am. Or rather, not half as tall. Big, sadly, I've probably got covered.
In my head, where regular readers of this Blog will know is where I spend most of my time, there lives a Seaside Postcard of a Woman. As I remarked to the romantic interest the other day: I never put on lipstick and eye-shadow without secretly worrying that I look like a drag queen. This anxiety is not entirely without basis. Several years ago I went to a drag show in a theatre in Hampstead where the drag queens in question who, sadly, were fooling nobody that they were girls, not even very big-boned girls, changed upstairs in an open space right outside the ladies bathroom. During a costume change I was unwise enough to go to the loo, only to return after the lights had dimmed and the music for a show tune had struck up to find myself making an entrance, only seconds ahead of the Diva herself.
And everyone clapped.
I've never been back since.
Romantic interest responded gallantly along the lines of: don't be ridiculous, I've never met anyone who looks less like a drag queen. And he wasn't even reading from the cue cards that I had so helpfully printed up. You can see why I'm interested... but Seaside Postcard Woman was back with a vengeance when the two of us met for a drink the other night in a nearby hostelry.
As you may or may not know, I live in the trendy area of Notting Hill Gate. Or to be absolutely accurate, I live somewhat north (think aurora borealis and Willesden) of the trendy area of Notting Hill Gate where there is a secret smoking pub run by an emaciated Greek man who also keeps a dismantled motor bike in the middle of the room (though to be fair, it's barely visible through the clouds of Marlborough Red), a friendly neighbourhood food outlet called Abdul's Chicken Palace, and a large colony of men with bolts through their necks who walk around with teams of Staffordshire Bull Terriers on reigns, like huskies - what with it being the North and all...
Suffice to say - I am not used to the finer things of life.
Romantic interest, however? - A wee bit different. He's definitely your Opera-going, friends in the cuntrey, E&O, Soho House, 192 (it's been gone a long time, but it lives on in the hearts of the literary locals) cashmere jumper, TLS sort of a chap. His books get quotes from the Literary Review - I get three stars in OK's HotList.
So we meet somewhere in the middle. An otherwise innocuous bar where we had been the last people to leave the restaurant a week before in suitably decadent, faux-gothic surroundings with a year's candlewax dripping over wrought iron chandeliers, bare planks on the floor and faded plush curtains. With fringes. Well, at least if they didn't have fringes, they ought to have had. And they must be blood red. Obviously.
He's sitting in a crushed leather sofa with the texture of a Cadbury's Flake when I arrive surrounded by fur and cashmere and Paul Smith stripes. Him that is, not me. I was in trainers, old jeans, a Dr Zhivago stole and my Stalin cap which always unnerves him.
I sit down, breathless with excitement, and the trek. There is a foot of snow outside which each of us have struggled through to get here.
As I said, it's a flirtation.
And then the locals arrived.
Three men from the Pogues squeeze into the sofa opposite us, one tooth between the three of them, and also sharing custody of a large, fat, sluglike Staffordshire Bull Terrier which they cuddled in turns while it slobbered.
My daughter's friend Lolita has one. It's called Prunella. My daughter and Lolita walk it and their piercings round the Scrubs as a way of bonding with the local fratelli on stolen pushbikes. Apart from the fact that I thought, naively, that you couldn't bring dogs into bars unless you were blind, I wasn't that perturbed. Okay, granted, nobody likes to see a man being kissed by a dog who then shares his lager, but I could tolerate it. I wasn't really looking at the dog anyway.
As I said - remember - it's a flirtation.
Romantic interest, however... not so thrilled.
'My god, they've got a pit bull,' he whispered, shrinking back into the corner of the sofa. The opposite corner.
No, it's only a Staff.
Nil points for knowing the breed. He glared at me: 'Whatever, it's horrible!'
Agreed, looks aren't its strong points, though to my mind it's a lot prettier than any of its owners who, now that I am looking at them, notice that they in turn are absolutely riveted by us. As is the dog.
Though only the dog is salivating.
'Don't you like dogs?' I asked (we're still in the discovery process - I don't know his favourite colour yet either, or his star sign).
'I don't mind a labrador or a poodle, but this isn't a dog, it's an animal.'
Shane MacGowan, sitting to my left with a pint of Guinness and a whisky chaser, is staring fixedly at Romantic Interest and his white wine spritzer with all the bemusement of a chimp with a mirror.
We attempt to carry one where we left off, but the sparkle has gone out the evening, at least for Romantic Interest who has gone colder than the circle line, and now both are suspended.
The Pogues, plus animal, are still watching us impassively, as though we're wearing grass skirts and about to sing hula-hula songs.
Outside it starts to snow again, and another long trudge home is imminent, something that suddenly seems like a very good idea. But I can still feel them staring at us as we don our various sweaters, hats and coats, adding 7 pounds with each additional layer. Though Shane managed a leer and a wink as I wrapped my scarf - a five foot long fake fox fur stole - around my head and followed Romantic Interest out the swinging door.
Seaside Postcard Woman walking.
Stupid ruddy scarf.