• Keith Dersley

Two Sorry Singles

Updated: Nov 10, 2019


At school, Bill Stringer was a force to contend with. He had plenty to say in class and always seemed good-humoured and relaxed. Perhaps he was, then.


But of course, we left school and went to college and got degrees. After the heady student days came attempts to get a career. The world moved in on us and there followed a time of anticlimax and dubious influences. #WoodyAllen, in his case. We all had troubles with women, mainly the fact that we never got any. But with Stringer it was an obsession, and he was definitely angry at the women for not rendering unto him whatever he thought it was they had to offer.


He said he felt grateful to #RobertRedford for saying, when he was proclaimed as a chick magnet, ‘Where were all these girls when I needed them?’


‘Whereas,’ said Stringer, ‘Woody Allen, with all his physical attractions, admits he’s never had any trouble getting women.’


‘Have you ever dreamed of getting your hands round Woody Allen’s throat?’ I asked.


One of the most embarrassing times was that night at the Woolpack. It was advertised as a Singles Night. He went, and hadn’t told me he was going, and I went, and hadn’t told him I was. We looked at each other in shock and laughed in a rare moment of comprehension.


Having got drinks, Stringer immediately conformed to his self-destructive habits and, ignoring the females present, started talking intently to another guy in the same state he was. Womanless (well, that was why we were all there), prematurely balding, up-in-arms, prepared to stick at quite a prestigious job requiring a degree, get a mortgage on a house and live off baked beans for a decade or three to pay it off. (I for one preferred to stick to menial jobs, skip the mortgage, and not use my degree.)


He entirely ignored the girls there, though he did chat with a nurse who had brought a labrador with her. The pet had a huge brown flea. Up until the time he saw that, Stringer paid a lot of attention to the labrador. The nurse, whose name was Alison, wasn’t that bad, either, he suddenly noticed.


But then Alison got caught up with a fellow called George, an older cove talking feverishly about collecting stamps. He threatened to bring an album or two with him next time.


‘What about those?’ I said to Stringer.


There were two chicks by the bar. One was overweight and the other a humourless trousered type.


‘You joking?’ said Stringer, peering contemptuously into his beer mug. ‘I can only love beautiful women.’


This weighty remark hung there for a long time.


What sort of men these beautiful women might want was a question that went unasked.



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