We arrived at Cadbury House in no time. Getting out of the car and making our way up to the club it became apparent that Matt must have been nervous too. Before he could even step inside the building he stopped and reached into his pocket:
“Hang on,” he said. Cigarette break. “Go on up if you like; I’ll see you up there.”
There was no way I was leaving him alone with every opportunity to do a runner like so many before him had. I was too far from home to recover a disaster now.
“No,” I replied, confidently but kindly, “I’ll wait.”
He smiled, as though that really meant something to him. To me, however, it was reassurance that he couldn’t go anywhere. While he smoked his cigarette outside the doors to the club, we ventured into idle chit chat about nothing in particular. He finished and stubbed it out in a sand bucket round the corner. Together, we headed up the stairs and into the lounge. Looking around for a moment in search of a place to sit. I spotted some comfy looking sofas out of the way in the corner of the room and made my way over to them, almost throwing myself onto them out of relief. Matt, on the other hand, carefully placed himself at the other end of the sofa and took off his jacket.
“Would you like a drink?” he offered.
I had to stop for a moment to think. Did I want a drink? What did I say? I wasn’t 18, so as much as I’d loved to have said ‘Double Gin and Tonic’, I couldn’t. But he didn’t know that. So what was sophisticated but soft? It was such a dilemma. I could feel my breathing speeding up as I searched around the room and inside my brain for an answer…
“Cranberry Juice and Lemonade, please,” I replied, with a smile. He raised an eyebrow. “I’m a cheap date!” I added.
As he disappeared across to the bar, I began to feel myself heat up extraordinarily quickly. Still dressed like an abominable snowman in a deeply heated bar was beginning to have negative effects on my appearance. Subtly, trying desperately hard to look cool and not make too much of a fuss, I attempted to shed my layers. Fortunately, Matt took his time at the bar, so I managed to de-coat/scarf and glove by the time he came back and still be able to gaze at him, sizing him up in a feeble attempt to work out what I thought of him, from across the room. I was still none the wiser. He had gone from being a somewhat condescending, patronising and seemingly a little chavvy ‘see-you-next-Tuesday’, to actually quite an attractive young man that had managed to make me smile and laugh, despite not being able to feel either my nose, hands or balls.
I noticed I was still gazing as he walked back to the sofa with the drinks in his hands. Quickly, again, trying to be subtle I looked in the other direction. I feel I should point out at this point, that as someone who has been through ten years of acting training and is naturally melodramatic; subtlety is not one of my strong points. This I think Matt noticed as he sat down and tried to hid a sly smile while placing the drinks on the table. He made himself comfortable and looked at me. Just looked. Only for a moment, but to me it was odd. I wasn’t used toseeingpeople look at me. Normally, when people look at me, there are lights in the way so I can’t see their penetrating gaze waiting for me to deliver my next line. But this was just me and him. Him and me. Waiting.
“So tell me about you,” he asked, perfectly casually, as though it was a perfectly reasonable question. To an extent, I suppose it was. I mean, how else was he going to learn who I was? But a flicker of sheer panic shot through my stomach at this point and I gulped and reached for my drink, taking a sip before constructing my answer.
“What do you want to know?”
“What do you want to tell?”
I thought about this for a minute. There was no real point in hiding anything because that’s not who I am. I don’t believe in a private life. There’s no such thing. Whatever you try and keep secret, everyone will eventually find out anyway, whether you tell them or not. My Facebook profile was a true homage to this. Blunt, frank and oddly to the point. But this was slightly different. I had already lied about myself to Matt, advancing my age by a full two months to make myself already 18 – well, no one wants to go out with a kid, do they? And so I had to change my life story to fit with this.WhyI didn’t just do what I always do in these situations and steal one of my friends ages was frankly beyond me. But no. This time, when I really needed to keep things easy, I made things so difficult that I ended tripping over it in the end. I kept my real birthday. Naturally, this would have made me 19 in February, so technically, I should already be at Uni – which I mentionedgoingto. Idiot. I couldn’t do it. I gave a vague outline about myself and then said;
“Tell you what, ask me questions about myself and I shall give you a frank and honest” – oops, there goes the lies again – “answer.”
“Okay,” he replied. And began to ask the questions. And that, my friends, fellows and other acquaintances who just so happen to be reading, is how we found out the very foundations of each other. How I decided that Matthew Rhys-Davies was someone I actually truly admired. That is not, however, to say that I thought he was any different to any of the other bastards I had met up with before – or not in some cases. There was still time for that.
Having sat in the lounge for almost an hour and a half, talking constantly, which in itself was a sheer miracle, Matt announced;
“So, I have to drop some Christmas presents round to a friends in Portishead… You’re welcome to come if you like.”
I thought about this for a minute. Things weren’t going so badly now. Friends. Well, look at it this way; I hadn’t thrown up yet, so there was still a chance. But on the other hand, this did mean that I was going to be out even later… It’s fine, the parents think I’m at Leanne’s anyway and they know what we’re like. Sorted. Why not?
“Sure, that’d be nice.”
“I just gotta go to the toilet and then we’ll go, okay?”
“Okay,” he replied with a smile.
Hurriedly, I dashed off to the bathroom. I really needed to go. Nerves and liquid had finally caught up with me. That, and I needed a moment alone to recompose myself. Careful not to take too long I did the deed and reappeared. Matt had picked up my many layers from the sofa and handed them to me as I did so.
“Thank you,” I said, gently. I decided not to layer up again. The car was warm and only a short walk away and knowing that we would only be going inside again when we got to Portishead, becoming a creature of the blizzard and roasting like a turkey at Christmas seemed pointless, however appropriate for this time of year.