Attention writers! I’m looking for YOU! If you’d like your writing to appear on this page, please contact me here or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. I accept stories, poems, articles – in fact, anything and everything. All you have to do is make sure your prose is no longer than 2000 words and your poems no more than 40 lines.
This week’s Guest Writer is my wonderfully talented student, Murray Clarke. This is based on a true story, from many years ago, but with a fictional twist at the end. Enjoy!
ONE NIGHT IN PARIS
‘Did I tell you about the time I appeared live on stage at The Folies Bergère?’ I said, taking a sip from my pint.
‘What, the famous cabaret music hall in Paris?’
‘The very same,’ I replied.
‘Actually on stage?’ my new companion said in astonishment. ‘All those gorgeous, scantily clad women? Surely not?’ he laughed.
‘It’s true,’ I assured him. ‘Mind you, I’m talking years ago.’
It was Friday evening and The Bell and Whistle was heaving. There were no spare tables and so I had asked a grey-haired gentleman, sitting on his own, if I could join him. Before long, we were swopping life stories.
And so I began to regale him with my tale: ‘We’d been working in Paris for three days making a documentary for the B.B.C. I was a film cameraman in those days, and my friend, Simon, the producer.
‘We’d had about three double cognacs (I don’t remember the exact number) and were staggering around the streets trying to clear our heads, when we found ourselves outside the illuminated frontage of The Folies Bergère. The lure of excitement was too much, and we ventured inside and purchased two excellent seats, three rows back from the stage. The show started.’
‘And so, how was it?’
‘Absolutely fabulous! The pretty young girls dancing the Can-Can! Unbelievable! We were in heaven!’
‘I bet you were. What happened then?’
‘Well, at the end of the evening, before the dancers left the stage, the leading dancer looked out over the packed auditorium and asked, “Can I have two volunteers, s’il vous plait.” My colleague, Simon, immediately pushed me forward, and I beckoned him to follow me up on to the stage where the line of lovely girls was waiting.’
‘So, what happened next?’
‘One of the girls (God, she was so beautiful!) tied a grass mini-skirt around our waists and attached a tiny bra to our chests. You should have seen us! And then the music started. The Can-Can seemed to get louder and louder as the lissom beauties twirled us round and round, faster and faster. At last, when it seemed the music would never stop, the final chord sounded, and we bowed breathlessly to the captivated audience who were now on their feet, applauding us with great gusto.’
‘And that was it?’
‘Oh no,’ I continued. ‘When the clapping had faded away, the leading dancer stepped forward and stood very, very close to me. To me!’
‘Where are you from, Monsieur?’ she said, looking me straight in the eyes.
‘And are you here with your wife?’ she asked, smiling and glancing at Simon.
A titter arose from the audience and I felt my face turning crimson.
‘So, Monsieur, show me how ze English kiss.’ She bent forward and carefully removed my spectacles.
‘I blushed even deeper and squirmed in my shoes. No pressure then. Fuelled by the many brandies I’d drunk earlier, I took a deep breath, and with all the enthusiasm I could muster, lunged forward towards her luscious smiling lips, now inches from my own. Her sweet French perfume overpowered me. Mustn’t let the side down; the honour of England and all Englishmen was at stake.
‘At the last minute, she turned her head and planted a big bright-red lipstick kiss on my cheek. Then she replaced the spectacles on my nose, gave me a half-bottle of Champagne, and unceremoniously dispatched us back to our seats.’
My colleague sat back in his chair. ‘Wow!’ he said. ‘That was quite a story. Did you ever tell your wife? Did you ever return to Paris?’
At that moment, the pub door opened and a draught of cold air swept in, followed by an elegant elderly woman wearing a long black coat and red scarf. She approached our table and grinned, her sweet perfume wafting over us like a summer breeze.
I stood up and turned to my new friend. ‘May I introduce my wife, Chantal. In her younger days she was a dancer in Paris. Her Can-Can was the talk of the town.’
And I smiled, recalling the first time I’d seen her on stage. Afterwards, I hadn’t washed my cheek for a week!