All the diary entry says is “Kim & Michel 1:30”. A daytime, summer party. But that summer party was no ordinary passing event for me…nor for Janie.
On that day, at that party, Janie and I first met.
Writing this piece 25 years (to the day) after the event, my recollection of the day is a bit patchy.
I hadn’t seen Kim and Micky for some time; since my back injury, two year’s before, I had been a bit less sociable and had not been so good at keeping in touch with people. I remember being pleasantly surprised when Kim called, out of the blue, to invite me to that party.
There were quite a lot of people at the party – a few dozen I would guess. I chatted at some length with a pair of lively, friendly “girls”; Anthea – a photographer friend who had been at school with Kim, as had the other young woman, Jane, who was Kim’s chiropodist friend.
I vaguely recalled Kim having spoken with me in the past about these good friends; in particular Jane. I also recalled Rene Knight (who worked for Kim’s family for many years) telling me a funny story about Jane.
When Kim first started dating Micky, Rene mentioned to Jane that Micky was from Belgium and also that Kim’s new hot-shot boyfriend drove a Mercedes. Jane had asked whether the Mercedes was petrol or diesel. Rene wondered why Jane wanted to know. Jane told Rene that a Belgian diesel Mercedes must be a cab and that, if the Mercedes was diesel, Micky was clearly not the hot-shot he held himself out to be. Rene passed on this pearl of wisdom to Kim, who confirmed that the car was indeed propelled through the use of diesel fuel. By all accounts, Kim challenged Micky with this “fact” about his occupation the next time she saw him, but, despite Janie’s error of judgment on that matter, Kim & Micky progressed with their relationship and the two of them persevered with Janie’s friendship.
In some ways it is odd that Janie’s and my path hadn’t crossed before, through Kim & Micky, but in the late 1980s, when I would see Kim & Micky socially a few times a year, it tended to be dinner or lunch parties and I guess they saw Janie and me as part of different circles. In any case, we were both otherwise attached most of the time during those years.
Anyway, Janie and I ended up as part of a smaller group that was still around into the early evening, at which point Kim suggested that we all go across the square and play tennis.
I had just started playing tennis again post injury, although quite tentatively still. Goodness only knows how useless I was after quite a few drinks at the party. But most of us had been drinking quite heavily, so I don’t suppose the quality of the tennis was very high.
I’m struggling to remember who was still around for that impromptu tennis. Janie, Kim and Micky of course; I think also Gary & Clifford. Perhaps Anthea also, but I have a feeling that she ducked out before the tennis. Others might remember.
I do recall thinking that Janie was pretty good at tennis. It probably helped that she was the only sober person among us. It also helped that she had grown up in a house with a tennis court and sisters to play with, but I didn’t know that fact at the time.
Janie had mentioned several times that she had driven to the party in her car and therefore wasn’t drinking. After the tennis, I asked her if she could drop me at a tube station. She said that she would, but that she wasn’t prepared to go out of her way and that the only tube station she’d be passing was Hanger Lane. That was ideal for me, as Hanger Lane and Notting Hill Gate are on the same line.
Janie and I chatted some more on the fifteen minute car journey.
She said that she liked poetry.
When she stopped the car to drop me off, I asked Janie for her telephone number.
Janie said no.
In order to get out of the car with my dignity intact, I took from my wallet one of those sticky labels with my name, address and telephone number on it. I stuck the label on her steering wheel, saying, “in that case, you can have my address and telephone number”.
Janie thanked me and said that she would write me a poem.
I’m still waiting for the poem.