We authors talk a lot about our leading men, our favourite book boyfriends and which drop-dead gorgeous actor we had to Google fifty times when we were ‘developing characters’. But what about the real heroes? The ones who have to listen to us moan about how tricky our plot is, about how we only managed a measly five hundred words all morning? So, pin back your lugholes, I want to tell you a story….
20:00 December 29th 1989
‘We won’t go mad. Just a few drinks. We need to save ourselves for New Year’s Eve.’
My friends and I nodded earnestly at each other. It was Friday night, we had all driven up to Nottingham after work for New Year, our first reunion after graduating we were tired and really needed to be sensible…
02:00 December 30th 1989
‘Any man!’ I cried, hands on hips. ‘I can give any man a fireman’s lift.’
Well… I was twenty-two, no one is sensible when they’re twenty-two. I was out with my friends. I had been earning money since September. Three months’ worth of wages and I was RICH! And apparently very strong.
We were having the best night ever (except for Ange who had had too much to drink and had left the pub at 10pm, gone home via the Indian takeaway, bought a chicken madras and eaten it off the ironing board?!)
I was tipsy and in Pieces. Pieces being THE student nightclub in the 80s
‘Go on then!’ A young man with the physique of a rugby player smirked at his mates. I pushed my sleeves up, put my head down and charged at him. As soon as his body weight touched my shoulder I crumpled like a coke can. Undeterred, I jumped up to my feet, muttered ‘idiot,’ rubbed my hands together and shouted ‘Next!’
There were no takers, which was probably a good thing. I spotted a man grinning at me, leaning against one of the pillars. What struck me most at the time was not his wavy hair, his grey blue eyes or his lovely smile, it was the fact that he was wearing a denim shirt, an Arran jumper and a tweed blazer. Somebody must have told him Pieces was a bit of a cattle market; all that was missing was a wax jacket and wellies.
‘I bet I can give you a fireman’s lift.’
‘I’m sure you can but-’
Too late. Before he could say Aberdeen Angus, I’d hefted him over my shoulder and was swinging him round like the proverbial cat.
He was really light! So light that I thought I must be very strong indeed and proceeded to do a lap round the dance floor to prove it.
The reason for the lightness, I was to find out later, was that he had recently undergone life-saving surgery at the eleventh hour for peritonitis, after appendicitis had finally been diagnosed on the day of an ambulance strike and he had to be taken to hospital by the army and then got forgotten about due to a massive pile up on the M1 with several life and death patients and by the time they got round to him he was very poorly indeed.
Had I have known this, I might not have bounced his lower abdomen on my shoulder until he begged to be released.
I was still face to face with his backside when the DJ played ‘You saw the whole of the moon,’ by The Waterboys. I lowered him to the ground and forced him to dance with me. He must have really liked me, (God knows why) because I know now that he hates dancing.
He offered to buy me a drink. I chose water, which cheered him up no end.
The lights came on and my friends were pulling their coats on. I liked this Tony Bramley. He was good fun. I started to panic that I’d go back to London and never see him again.
‘Shall we go for a walk through town?’ I asked.
He shifted awkwardly and looked at his watch. ‘Er…’
What’s the matter?’ I narrowed my eyes and folded my arms. He’d got a girlfriend, I knew it, the two-timing, scheming cheating…
‘It’s just that my mum’ll have put my electric blanket on.’
After the longest coldest walk around Nottingham during which we pointed out to each other all our favourite places, I kissed him goodnight and sent him off in the frosty night air to find a taxi. (He didn’t get home until five am and his bed was like an oven.) I opened the cubby hole where I was supposed to be sleeping. It stank of curried farts and I held my breath as I wriggled into my sleeping bag. Ange lifted her head and mumbled sleepily, ‘Did you meet anyone?’
‘Yes,’ I said closing my eyes, a smile on my face. ‘And I think I’m going to marry him.’
The Beginning (not the end)
After four years of flinging herself round the dancefloors of Nottingham's nightspots, Cathy somehow managed to get an honours degree in business.
She then plunged herself into the corporate world of marketing, working on high-powered projects such as testing the firing range of SuperSoaker water guns and perfecting the weeing action of Tiny Tears. After making it onto Timmy Mallet's Christmas card list, she realised it was time to move on and so in 1995 set up her own marketing agency.
She lives in an idyllic Nottinghamshire village with her husband, two daughters and a dog called Pearl. She shares her time between her marketing agency, writing and taxiing the girls endlessly from one activity to the next.
Cathy is a fan of Masterchef, strong coffee, chocolate brazils and Marian Keyes books. She is addicted to her Kindle and has an irrational fear of bananas.
Conditional Love is Cathy’s debut novel. It’s a romantic comedy about a thirty-something procrastinator who dreams of having the perfect man in the perfect home, but doesn’t seem to be in the driving seat of her own life. After her boyfriend dumps her on Valentine’s Day and she inherits the estate of a stranger with a condition in the will, she is forced to face up to her future and reassess her past.
Cathy Bramley can be found at:
Cathy Bramley on Amazon