Gloria gives Ellis and Gordy a piece of her mind.
The following evening, I met a crowd of my friends at The Kings Arms and felt quite pleased by the number of birthday cards I received. Although the girls were enjoying themselves, they began to think it pretty dull in the bar and decided to go off to Minstrels. I had no desire to visit the place again and was trying to think of an excuse not to go. It was a relief when my cousin Duncan walked into the bar. He travelled from Manchester to see me, giving me a perfect reason to stay behind. My friends did all they could to persuade me to change my mind but eventually gave up leaving me chatting with Duncan about family business. I didn't want the attention now my friends had gone and I gathered up the birthday cards and put them into my bag. We were at ease in each other's company, but we looked out of place together. I was casually dressed, but still smart in Mary Quant style clothes. Duncan was into the budding flower power style. His hair hung over his shoulders, much longer than mine and a lot more lifeless. He wore denim, the jeans frayed at the bottoms, the jacket frayed at the cuffs. An assortment of beads and Celtic symbols hung around his neck. The time soon passed and Duncan looked at his watch.
"Well, it's ten o'clock, I'd better go or I'll miss the train back."
"Yeah I'm off home anyway, got some ironing to do before I go to bed."
"What a letdown, bloody ironing tonight of all nights." He gave a sigh before continuing. "Still I'm glad you got my card, it was a bit late when I posted it."
"It was the first one I opened this morning. Thanks for coming to see me, Duncan, it means such a lot to me you know."
"No bother. Come on I'll walk up to the terminus with you; I can go that way."
We stood up and while Duncan helped me on with my coat, Ellis walked into the bar. He noticed me right away and walked over.
"Well you didn't lose much time, did you?"
I looked at him, surprised by his sudden appearance. "I beg your pardon," I said.
"You soon got yourself fixed up with this idiot."
"Hey man, no need for that sort of talk," Duncan said.
"You shut your fucking mouth."
"Don't you dare talk to him like that."
"Can't your boyfriend stick up for himself?"
"He's not my boyfriend, he's my cousin."
"Yeah, and my mum's Ruby Murray."
"Well good luck to your mum. And who was that you were necking with at Minstrels last night? Cilla Black!"
Ellis was speechless for a few seconds, suddenly aware I had been in the club. "She's just someone I met. I'll probably never see her again. There's nothing in it, she was only with me as a friend."
"Yeah, well she looked quite friendly."
"Where were you anyway? I didn't see you there."
"No, but I saw you." I turned to Duncan. "Come on let's go."
Ellis grabbed my arm. "I need to talk to you, Gloria."
"Hey man, get your hands off her," Duncan said.
Ellis let go of my arm and pushed Duncan back down onto his chair. I retaliated and with all the strength I could muster, I shoved Ellis with both hands. He was not expecting it and he stumbled back a few steps, clearly shocked by my strength.
"Don't you shove my cousin about," I shouted. "Who the heck do you think you are? Do you know why he's here? He's come down from Manchester to be with me, to cheer me up. It was supposed to have been our engagement party tonight, but you wouldn't remember that would you?"
Ellis stood looking for a few seconds before answering, realising he had made a fool of himself again by over-reacting. "I'm sorry." He looked at Duncan. "Look, I'm sorry, mate."
"No danger, man, I'm cool."
"Can I meet you tomorrow, Gloria, we need to sort all this out? I hate us being apart, and I've got your birthday present at home."
"When did you remember it's my birthday, about ten seconds ago?"
"Course not. I went to town yesterday especially to get the present."
"What is it then?"
"I can't tell you, it'll spoil the surprise."
"So you've bought me nothing, have you?"
"I have, Gloria, it's a cardigan, it's a nice one though."
"What size is it?"
"I don't know. The girl in the shop looked about the same size as you, she sorted it out for me. I kept the bill, you can change it if it's wrong." He looked at his watch. "Look, it's not that late. I'll take you up to my house and we'll pick it up."
I gave a laugh. "Yeah, and then you'll want to take me for the last drink, and then you'll want to see me home, and then we'll end up necking by my back gate."
"Well that really wouldn't be such a bad thing, would it?"
"I suppose I could live with it."
As we spoke, the black-haired girl I saw him with at Minstrels, walked into the bar. Her almost non-existent top, barely covered her bra-less breasts. Her denim shorts were cut high up the legs, revealing a small part of her behind. She walked over to Ellis reached up and kissed him on the cheek, leaving behind a large red impression from her lipstick. "Hi, darling, sorry I'm late, and look, I'm sorry about last night, you know, women's problems." She looked at me. "Hello there, are you his Aunt or something? I'm Rosie, I'm always pleased to meet my boyfriend's family."
I ignored her and turned away linking arms with my cousin as I walked off. "Gloria, wait," Ellis called, but I kept walking towards the exit. Ellis dashed after me and grabbed hold of my wrist. "Wait, please, it's not as bad as it looks."
I yanked my arm from his grasp. "Well, it looks pretty bad to me."
"Listen, Glor. Sorry, I know you don't like being called Glor."
"Wrong again. You can call me Glor. I don't like people I care about calling me Glor. People I don't give a hoot about can call me what they like."
"Let's go," Duncan said. "Don't upset yourself over him."
Ellis looked at Duncan, but said nothing, obviously realising even a verbal attack on my cousin would only make things worse.
I glanced across the room where two giggling girls and one of Gordy's friends, joined Rosie by the bar. They all seemed to be grinning at me as if they found the situation amusing. I looked back at Ellis. "It's over, Ellis, over." I walked off with my cousin and had just reached the door when Gordy walked in. I stood and stared at him. I wanted to slap him, I wanted to kick him, I wanted to hit him over the head with something.
"Shut up, Gordy, you, you perverted rabbit."
Gordy seemed amused by his new title and gave a laugh before continuing. "Please, listen to me, let me explain."
"I only meant to go to the end of the lane then come back for you, but there was a police car sitting there and he gave me a bad look. You know full well I'd had a lot to drink. If I'd have turned and gone back he would have nicked me for sure."
"So you just left me, you're some flipping hero, aren't you?"
"I knew the police car was going to patrol down there. I knew he'd pick you up. I'm really sorry if you were frightened."
"No, Gordy, I wasn't frightened, I was bloody petrified." My hand came up crashing hard against his face before I walked out with my bewildered cousin trailing behind.