I’m locked out of my flat, right now. Well, not right now as you read this. But right now as I type this. OK, well not as I type it, but as I write it down in biro. I don’t have my computer with me. Why would I? I’m not one of those people that carry their laptop around wherever they go, like it’s some sort of metallic baby with a wifi connection. I’m using a pen and paper because I’m old school. Look, basically; I’m locked out of my flat and I’m sat in a cafe. With a pen and paper.
It was a simple thing really – I took my front door key off my key-ring for a night out. I only had two pockets and could do without the clutter. It’s at times like that, when I wish it was socially acceptable for men to have handbags. Manly ones you understand, not pretty pink clutch bags. Ones with pictures of football and beer and women on. Grr. It seemed like a perfect idea at the time; a streamlined pocket containing only my phone, my wallet and a single key (and some lip gloss but that’s my girlfriend’s, I’m just looking after it, honest). That was Saturday night. It is now Monday afternoon. (Again, as I write this, not as you read it. Keep up).
The annoying thing is; I predicted this would happen. Not in a spooky Nostradamus or Derek Acorah-way, but just in that way that, when I took the key off the key-ring I said to myself; “You’re going to forget to put this key back on. Don’t forget to put the key back on. If you forget to put the key back on then you’ll be locked out on Monday.” To which the other part of my brain said “Of course I won’t forget to put the key back on. How hard is it to remember to put the key back on?” But it secretly thought; “I will definitely forget to put the key back on.” And I did forget to put the key back on. Now I am sat in this cafe, on my own, drinking tea and writing.
That’s what puts me in this awkward situation – is it OK to sit on your own in a public place without any other company? I think it is, but I can’t help feeling a bit like a weirdo. There’s something very odd about asking for a pot of tea for one. I’m sure the girl behind the counter was immediately put on Red Alert: “Who comes to a cafe and sits on their own?” She must have thought. I can’t help feeling that they’re waiting for me to do something erratic and dangerous. Part of me now feels obliged to do something to either prove or disprove this notion. What can you do, though? You can’t just stand up and go; “It’s alright everyone, I’m not a dangerous loner, I’m just locked out of my house.” I don’t know why, but there’s something about trying to justify your sole presence to a cafe full of people that seems even weirder – as though I am protesting too much. Even I’m starting to believe I might do something drastic – like knocking over the display of Danish pastries and screaming “It’s us against them.” That’s what the other customers want me to do; I can see it in their eyes. But I’m not going to, I’ll show them. I’ll sit here and drink my tea quietly and carry on writing. They won’t suspect a thing.
I feel like all eyes are on me; they’re all thinking how unnatural it is to sit in a busy place on your own. How is it that this is not acceptable but swimming in public is fine? Why is it more natural to take your clothes off and splash around in a big bath with a bunch of strangers? Say what you like about me being here on my own, but at least I’m not in Speedos. Yeah, exactly – whatever the outcome of this embarrassing disaster, at least I can hold my head up high and say I’m not wearing Speedos.