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A bridge too far

  Tue 23rd May 2017

Saturday night. We're all off to the theatre for a festival of short films from the Northwest, in which my middle daughter is lead actress in her best friend's film. My girls distance themselves from us: there is no shame worse for a teenager than to be seen socialising with her parents.

I had the good fortune to fall in with the director's parents. She is good company and magnetically attractive, especially in her high boots, black tights, and black miniskirt and white top. It was impossible to avoid glancing at her legs.

It was one of the most moving experiences I have ever had in a cinema. The film's a love song to her friends and to Lancaster, infused with a joyous sense of how the city has shaped their lives, coloured with their ambivalence about leaving the place in a few short months. It won First Prize. In the reception afterwards I couldn't find my voice, and a big teardrop ran involuntarily from my eye. We all went up to the Yoghurt Knitters Cafe where Foxy Mum bought me a couple of drinks.

Seeing my lovely little girl (she's eighteen and she's still my little girl) surrounded by with such intelligent, feminist, socially sophisticated, arty and creative sisters and friends, was even more affecting than the film. How I will miss them, even though I know that they've all got to spread their wings now and have the kind of education at university and drama school that will ripple through the rest of their lives.

The same daughter has acquired a boyfriend. He slept over at Kirsty's the other night. "Er...you're going to be careful aren't you? I don't mind most things but not a flipping baby," I texted. "No Dad, I've got a secret plan to throw away my place at a top drama school and get preggers at eighteen and live in a bedsit in Morecambe."

The hotel sank my mood on Sunday night, offering me the kitchen porter job. The following day I got the train to Grange-over-Sands and had a couple of swift pints during the forty-five minute wait for the bus to Newby Bridge.

I got on, and pulled from my pocket 14p and a small packet of refreshments; I'd forgotten to ask for cashback in the pub. The bus left, and seeing as I am not to be paid for my trial shift the other day, I thought "fuck that hotel" and went through my contacts, thinking who would be prepared to help me out. The Racing Commentator offered, even though he was describing the action at Sandown. Then another friend rang back.

When you want someone to lie for you, you can always rely on a Scouser. Harry rang the hotel saying I'd come off my bike and was in A&E. Which is the truth, if we overlook a slight chronological inexactitude in that that happened about ten years ago. I wrote a postcard for Kim.

Not for the first time, I misunderstand a girl.

Donna number 2 (not the girl of the passionate affair in Milton Keynes, but a girl I know through Kitty and going out dancing) rang. After a bit of a preamble she said that was was feeling "a bit lonely" and "could do with some company".

My presumptive mind assumed that she was after -- well, at least a bit of snogging, and I couldn't wait to get round to her house. "I'm a bit pissed, Donna," I warned. "Don't worry I'm wankered too."

We sat on her settee and started talking about a vague plan to go out on Saturday. I slid my arm round her back and up to her shoulders. She moved away and put my arm back, and I realised that there wasn't in fact any sexual code hidden in her invitation.

I thought she might come round to the idea, so I decided to give her half an hour to see if she warmed up, but we spent a sex-dampening time flicking through her phone looking at pictures of her children. Why do women think that one is going to be interested in seeing pictures of people who combine two ways to be uninteresting, being strangers, and children?

I went back to the pub, where the motley crew were still there. "You went off quite suddenly there." "Yeah, I thought a girl had invited me round for sex."

Being dressed for work, I was wearing narrow black trousers and a white vest top. I walked past another table and saw The Russian and his friend there. The Russian, who's gay, made some appreciative noises and started pawing my top. It's lovely to be found physically attractive. As regular readers will be bored of hearing, I could not give less of a shit about whether I am funny or intelligent -- I just want to be fucked. We started chatting and inching closer together, doing unnecessary touches. "Anyway, Ruskie...I'd better get back to my table now, but if we were in a different setting, I'd snog the face off you now."

At the bar, my card wasn't working. "No I think it's me," I said to the barmaid. "I'll shove it in a bit further. There, it's in as far as it'll go now."

I think it's the weather.

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