Thursday, March 8, 2012
1992: You can't fool me
We'd had a switch around at work, and though quite a few of the original crew had departed to go travelling or just on to pastures new, I was still rather sad at leaving our little corner of the office.
I was joining a new team with a new boss and sitting with two newish girls. I wasn't mad about it but I had no choice. Soon enough however we were laughing all the day long and we became quite pally, especially me and the girl opposite.
She was a pretty little curly-haired Welsh girl with a bizarre home life, a former carnival queen who was now living in east London with a uni friend we heard about endlessly. The more I got to know her and more I got to hear about their leisure activities the more I got to wondering: was she a lesbian?
Just a couple of years younger than me she tore posters of Jason Donovan out of Smash Hits, saw his Joseph about a million times and even waited outside the stage door for autograph. She was boy mad! Like a teenager. Or was she?
We had a shared love of ER and Northern Exposure and we were yet to give up on LA Law. We enjoyed the chart hits of the time. She had a huge soft spot for k d lang, any song which intimated that sisters were indeed doing it for themselves or to each other, and they were certainly no strangers to the Drill Hall. The Drill Hall - wasn't that a lesbian venue?
Not having a clue at the time that all lesbians didn't wear dungarees and have short hair, I convinced myself she was no such thing. Surely her and the flatmate were just good friends? I'd met the flatmate, and she was short and butch and changed her name from her feminine given name to her more gender unspecific middle name. She was loud and wore shapeless boyish clothes and no make-up. But still...
As the months went by we became very friendly. It was dinners at each other's houses and even the odd (rather painful) weekend away, but me and the future Mrs P found the flatmate was better in very small doses, and it became something we had to do rather than wanted to do. Flatmate loved to dance around vigorously to this En Vogue record, which I found rather disturbing.
The future Mrs P, being mistress at wheedling a subtle confession was sure they were a couple. But after so many years this was still being hotly denied. Even a poke round the flat while going to the loo gave no clues away. Today, I'd know immediately, but then, not having joined the proper media world my naivity was still intact. I thought they jsut went to see films like Go Fish or Salmonberries because they were cinephiles. And everyone was talking about CJ Lamb's kiss with Abbey, weren't they?
But then one day, their blissful existence of driving holidays in the USA and Beverly Hills 90210 came to an abrupt end. Tearfully on the stairs after realising something was going on with her, she confessed to me that yes, her and flatmate had been an item since university, but now flatmate had pursued and caught a friend of theirs and it was all over. Yes, she admitted, she was gay.
I was not shocked - at last it had been confirmed. I said it was okay, I'd guessed a long time ago. However, I was thinking but not saying, in the four years we sat opposite other and had become close friends, why did she not feel she could ever tell me? As it transpired, flatmate had come clean to Mrs P about a year before, but had begged her not to let on. And to her credit, she kept it under her hat.
It made no difference to our friendship, but as is usual with anyone, we eventually drifted apart once I left the company in '95. Shame, because I think of her often and I know she's happy, but I deep down I do feel kind of affronted she felt she couldn't be honest with me. Perhaps it was easier said than done.