I had something of a treat yesterday evening. It was one of those simple little things that one does that makes a day special and memorable. You see, as a “thank you” for putting her up when she lost her digs, Dorothy and Angela arranged a dining experience on the Thames for us.
I have done similar things before on other rivers and canals (I particularly enjoyed a mea, but floating down the Avon a few years ago) for whatever reason I have never taken such an excursion on the Thames. Maybe it is because it’s in my back yard, so to speak. One very seldom enjoys the tourist side of ones home town. I suppose that I have just taken the fact that they are there for granted. But Dorothy seems to love that side of London, so off we went a little after six to join the boat close to Embankment. The weather was a little less than perfect, but what little rain we had was very slight, and the clouds minimal. Any of my friends will tell you that I am not a particularly good sailor, but the water was very calm, so I had little to worry about there.
We were greeted at the boat by a charming young man who seemed to take an instant shine to young Angela. Indeed, the attention he showed her throughout the evening would, under other circumstances, have almost guaranteed a return; but alas, his flirtations and over zealous attention to her every need, were wasted. Angela is devoted to Dorothy and that is not likely to change any time soon, even for the most eager of suitors.
Anyway, we had arrived in good time and only a couple of other dinners were already seated as we were shown to our table. We were at the prow (that’s the front, if memory serves me right), with a wonderful view across this marvelous waterway. Normally on such occasions I would choose a nice claret to accompany my meal, but yesterday I felt almost rebellious, deciding as I did to start the evening with a long, cool beer. Now, beer is something I do not drink a great deal, but when the mood takes me, I do enjoy a cold continental lager. At this juncture I must point out that I have nothing against English ales, I just find them a little too strong and bitter for my taste.
We had been at our table for little more than five minutes when we were joined, unexpectedly on my part, by a young woman who was introduced to me as Clara. Now I must admit that I thought three an odd number for a dinner such as this, but was hardly in a place to question Dorothy’s planning seeing as it was to be her treat.
Well, it seems that dear old Aunt Murdock is not the only matchmaker in the family! Although the evening was primarily intended as a thank you, Dorothy has never been one to overlook the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, and had decided to invite one of her theatrical chums along to make up the numbers.
From my first impression, Clara is never just one to make up the numbers. From her dark, almost Mediterranean complexion and her tall, regal bearing, to the seductive tones of her surprisingly deep voice, Clara was obviously someone who not only expected to me taken notice of, but invariable was. I must have looked a perfect fool, sat there with my mouth slightly open and, making short squeaky noises rather than the coherent greeting my mind was desperately trying to get my mouth to say.
Much of the rest of the evening is a little of a blur. I recall Angela’s amusement at the young crewman’s attentions, and Dorothy’s effusive gratefulness for my hospitality. I seem to remember an exquisite roasted quail and extensive cheeseboard (not both at the same time I must point out), but very little else. I am almost ashamed to admit that for the entire three-hour cruise and meal, almost all of my attention was lavished on Clara, who had been given the seat next to me.
Anyway, at the end of the meal, Clara headed back to her flat somewhere on the South bank, whilst Dorothy, Angela and myself made our way back to Kensington. Once home we settled down for a quiet drink and a chat before bed.
During our conversations I learned that Clara was actually a couple of years older than Dorothy and had been something to a mentor to her at school. I am sure our paths must have crossed previously at one event or another, but I don’t think I had ever spoken to her before.
According to Dorothy, Clara has been widowed twice and has inherited quite small fortune through these untimely deaths. Whilst she is not necessarily looking for husband number three, she felt that we might get along, which I think we did.
From my perspective, Clara is a charming and very interesting lady indeed. I was quite smitten by her smile and her deep green eyes. There is something of the fiery Mediterranean temperament in her manner, coupled with an almost angelic glow that flows across her face when she smiles. Yes, I know how soppy this is all sounding and no doubt there will be words said at the Club tomorrow, but I have just spent the evening in the company of one of the most attractive women of my acquaintance.
But as for a romantic liaison, I fear that is not to be. It was quite obvious almost from the word go, that Clara and I could never be more than friends, and I would like to think that we will be. She is a much more outdoorsy person than me, who enjoys outdoor pursuits and adventure. She also lives most of the year between Switzerland and the South of France, places I could never contemplate setting up a home.
So full marks to Dorothy for her effort. Whilst her matchmaking may not have gone according to plan, we did all enjoy a wonderful evening and I am sure that Clara and I will meet again. She has invited me to stay at either of her villas, which I just may do at some point on the future.