It’s the Quiet OnesbySamScribble©
'It's the quiet ones that you have to watch out for.'
I must have been about ten the first time that I heard this. I was out in the garden, practising bowling at a single cricket stump with an old tennis ball. My mother was drinking tea on the terrace with her friend Rosie.
When I heard 'It's the quiet ones that you have to watch out for', I thought that they were talking about me. (I was pretty quiet as a kid.) But then Rosie said something about 'poor Hannah', meaning Mrs Harpington, and I realised that they were talking about her husband, Henry Harpington.
Mr Harpington was one of those never-say-boo-to-a-goose sort of guys. He had a bicycle repair shop on King Street. Thinking about him now, all these years later, I picture him as a slightly-built guy, with little round glasses, wearing a navy blue -- but faded -- work apron with the word Raleigh emblazoned on it. In fact, I find it hard to picture him without his trademark (and trademarked) work apron. I guess he must have taken it off sometimes. I assume that he took it off when he was 'playing away from home' as Mother's friend Rosie had so delicately put it.
My friend Johnny Roundhill reminds me a lot of Henry Harpington. Johnny's slightly built and wears little round glasses. He doesn't have a bicycle repair business though. Johnny makes a very good living by buying and selling businesses.
When I first got to know Johnny, he was in his late 20s. But, on a bad day, he could almost have passed for 40 -- even back then. I guess it had something to do with his rather old-fashioned taste in clothes; that and his prematurely greying hair and his glasses.
And then there was his car. At a time when most of us had sports cars and hot hatches of one sort or another, Johnny had a salmon pink Jaguar sedan of indeterminate age with tan leather upholstery.
Aside from his talent for spotting undervalued businesses and moving them on at a tidy profit, Johnny also has a talent for making plates of food worthy of a Michelin-starred restaurant. 'Women like a good meal,' he told me when I complimented him on his culinary skills. 'A good meal and a nice glass of wine. After that, a trip to the bedroom is almost guaranteed.'
It certainly seems to have worked for Johnny. For two or three years there, he seemed to have a different woman in his bed every few days. Mother was right: it's the quiet ones that you have to watch out for.
But then things got tricky: a couple of women came back for seconds.
The first woman to take the step from being a casual (and discreet) after-supper bonk to something a bit more serious was Karen. She did something at the medical school. She was a doctor -- of the PhD variety, I think. The other woman was a florist. Her name was Tina. Karen was tall and willowy and extroverted; the life and soul of any party. Tina was quiet and a touch on the plump side. I could see how Tina's quietness might appeal to Johnny. But both girls were really nice. Really nice. I could completely understand why Johnny was attracted to them. But two of them? That was always asking for trouble.
For a couple of months -- maybe even longer -- Johnny managed to wine, dine, and play hide the sausage with each of them without the other finding out. Don't ask me how; he just did.
And then, one fateful Saturday morning, Karen decided to surprise Johnny with breakfast in bed. Unfortunately, she arrived at his place with coffee and croissants for two. And there were three of them. Tina had stayed over for a bit of a pyjama party -- sans her pyjamas.
It didn't take the girls too long to put two and two together. Karen was the first to storm off; Tina followed fifteen minutes or so later. (Tina had to gather up her clothes which, according to Johnny, were scattered about the house a bit.) However, before the day was out, Johnny had heard from both of them. 'You're going to have to make your mind up,' Karen told him. 'I don't share. Understand?' And Tina's message, while not quite so curt, was pretty much the same.
'I knew it was a mistake to make supper for the same woman more than once,' Johnny said. 'I should have stuck with the tried and true formula of find 'em, feed 'em, fuck 'em, and forget 'em.'
'A bit late for that,' I said.
'So, what am I going to do?'
'What do you want to do?' I asked.
'Perhaps I should get them both over for supper at the same time -- you know, together -- see if I can get some sort of threesome going.' But I don't think even Johnny saw that as a real possibility. Eventually, he decided that Karen was the one. 'I may never get another chance with such good-looking woman. And she's really intelligent. But I think I can live with that,' he added wistfully. 'I'm just going to have to tell Tina that it's all over. I think she'll be OK with that, don't you?'
I didn't. But then it was nothing to do with me.
By all accounts (well, by Johnny's account anyway), Tina took the news quite well. She didn't scream and shout or anything like that. She didn't even burst into tears -- at least not while she was still on the phone. Maybe I had been wrong in thinking that she would take it badly.
A few days after she and Johnny had had their 'final' telephone conversation, I ran into her outside The Wallace Collection on Manchester Square. 'You've heard what happened?' she said. 'Johnny dumped me.'
'Oh,' I said, doing my best to neither confirm nor deny any knowledge of recent changes to their shared status.
'Yeah. He reckoned that he and the skinny bitch were "better suited".'
'Well ... technically, I gather that you sort of dumped him,' I said, trying to cheer her up.
Tina frowned. 'Umm ... well ... yes, I suppose so,' she said. 'In a way. Still ....' And then she suddenly said: 'You knew, didn't you?'
'You knew that he was seeing whatever her name is.'
'Well ... umm ... sort of,' I admitted.
Tina just nodded.
I quickly glanced at my watch. It had just gone five. 'Look, do you ... umm ... fancy a quick drink?' I said.
For a long time, Tina said nothing. In fact, I wondered if she had heard me. But then she said: 'OK. Yes. That would be nice. Thank you.'
We wandered back across Wigmore Street and down to a little bar on Picton Street.
As I said earlier, Tina was a pretty quiet sort of girl and not a lot was said as we walked the short distance from Manchester Square to Picton Street. It was hard to tell whether she was quiet because a) she was unhappy, b) she was thinking, or c) she was storing up words and energy for a sudden explosion of invective. I just hoped that it wasn't the latter.
Once we were both seated, with a couple of glasses of wine in front of us, she frowned, raised her open hand with her palm towards me, and said: 'I just have one question, and then I'll leave it be.'
'OK,' I said. (What else could I say?)
'What I want to know is why didn't you tell me that Johnny was two-timing?'
'Hmm. Well ... difficult,' I said. 'Johnny's an old friend. You know ... we go back a few years. And I guess I just thought it was better if I didn't get involved. Also, to be honest, I don't really know you that well, Tina. Some women might have ... well ... you know.'
For what seemed like an eternity, Tina just looked at me with narrowed eyes. And then she sort of sighed, resignedly, and said: 'Oh well, onward and upward I suppose. Here's to whatever or whoever comes along next.' And she raised her glass.
I wasn't sure that I'd really answered her question; but, hoping that she really did mean just one question and move on, I decided to try and change the direction of the conversation. 'So ... is your business around here somewhere?' I asked.
She nodded. 'Chiltern Street.'
'Oh. Handy,' I said. 'You know ... good area.'
She nodded again -- and this time she even smiled slightly. 'Well, I think it's tough everywhere at the moment,' she said. 'But, yes, it's handy for Marylebone, Marble Arch, Paddington, St John's Wood. Most of our business is from commercial customers -- offices, hotels, a few restaurants. We don't get many walk-ins. And what about you? What brings you into the West End on a Thursday afternoon?'
'Had to drop one of my horns into Howarth's. For a bit of a tweak. The G-sharp key was sticking. I suppose I must have walked right past your place.'
Tina nodded, slowly. 'Possibly.' And then she took a slow sip of her wine. 'I'd forgotten that you were famous,' she said.
'Famous? I don't think so,' I said.
'Johnny says that you're famous.'
'Can't believe everything Johnny says,' I replied, before realising that it probably wasn't the smartest thing to say.
'No. That's true,' Tina said, and her smile faded.
The following day, having returned to Chiltern Street to collect my now-repaired alto, I was just walking out of Howarth's front door, when Tina appeared right in front of me. 'I'm stalking you,' she said.
'Oh, jolly good.'
'Yes. I thought so,' she said. 'Actually, I originally thought about stalking David Bowie. Angela -- who works for me -- said that she once saw him coming out of here. But it seemed like rather a lot of work. I don't even know if he still lives here. You know, in England. He probably lives in some tax haven, doesn't he?'
'Probably,' I said.
'So I thought that I'd stalk you instead.'
'Nice,' I said. 'So what do we do now? I'm afraid I'm not really up on the etiquette of stalking.'
'Well, that's my place just across the street.' She nodded towards a small green-fronted shop with flowers in the window. 'I could make you a cup of tea or something.'
And so we crossed the street to Tina's place where she introduced me to Angela (who had once seen David Bowie), and then Tina and I went next door and upstairs.
'I didn't realise that you lived here as well,' I said, as I followed Tina into the small-but-functional kitchen.
'The flat came with the shop. It's only small. Just one bedroom. But it's fine for me. Breakfast tea? Or Earl Grey?'
'Up to you,' I said.
Tina filled a modern take on an old-fashioned whistling kettle from the tap and set it on the gas hob. Then she took a red, white, and gold Chinese-style teapot from one of the cupboards. 'No,' she said, suddenly, 'I think I've changed my mind.'
'Ah. So back to David Bowie then?'
'No. About the tea. It's not very rock 'n' roll, is it? Tea, I mean.' And she turned off the gas, put the teapot back in the cupboard, and took out a couple of small tumblers. From the freezer, she produced an ice-cold bottle of Stoli. 'I think this might be more appropriate,' she said, and she poured a couple of shots. 'Skol!'
'Skol!' I echoed.
Even before my mouth and throat had adjusted to the glorious icy warmth of the first searing gulp of the vodka, Tina had refilled our glasses.
'Right,' she said. 'I suppose I had better start getting undressed.'
I think I must have looked a little bemused.
'You know -- so that you can watch.'
'But wouldn't that mean that I was stalking you?' I asked.
She frowned. 'Hmm. Yes. I see what you mean. You should be the one getting undressed, shouldn't you? I should be the one watching. Perhaps if you get undressed in the sitting room and I'll just watch you from here in the kitchen. I promise to be very quiet. You wouldn't even know that I was here. Or ...' and she raised a finger to signify that this was an important possibility that had perhaps not hitherto been properly considered, 'we could both get undressed at the same time.'
'At the same time?'
'And would that satisfy the rules of stalking?' I asked.
'I'm not sure,' Tina said. 'To be honest, I've never actually stalked anyone before -- certainly not anyone famous. But I guess you might have realised that.'
'And I've never been stalked before,' I said. 'Well, never knowingly.'
'Perhaps we should have another shot first,' she said. And she handed me my glass. 'Skol!'
'Skol!' I echoed. Again.
Tina put down her empty glass and picked up the Stoli bottle as though she was about to pour further shots. But then she must have changed her mind. For a long time -- a minute, maybe more, maybe two minutes -- she just perched on the edge of the small kitchen table, smiling but saying nothing. I wondered what she was thinking, but thought it better not to ask.
'I think I shall take my knickers off,' she said eventually. 'Yes. That's what I'll do.'
Tina was wearing a summery floral print dress, buttoned down the front, with a full three-quarter length skirt. By raising the skirt at the back and indulging in a bit of discreet juggling, she was able to remove her knickers without even exposing her knees. 'There,' she said. 'And now it's your turn to remove something.'
'OK.' And I carelessly kicked off my Timberland moccasins.
'Well, that's a start -- I suppose,' Tina said.
Tina's next trick was worthy of a stage magician. Reaching -- decorously -- inside the top of her dress, she fossicked and tugged (while smiling all the time), and -- hey presto! -- produced a bra.
'Now that is a trick that I would like to see again,' I said.
Tina smiled. 'Hmm. Maybe later. But now it's your turn again.'
Polo shirt? Or chinos? Which was it to be? I decided on the chinos.
'Mmm. Nice legs,' Tina said. 'I think I sort of knew that you'd have nice legs.'
'Which I think means that it's your turn again,' I said.
Tina looked down at her dress. 'Hmm. Rather a lot of buttons. Perhaps you could help.'
'Would that be within the rules?' I asked.
'If it isn't, I'm sure that we could make an exception,' she replied.
I took a step closer and slowly began to undo the topmost button of her dress. At the same moment, Tina leaned forward and kissed me. Just softly.
'This stalking thing is quite good, isn't it?' she said. 'Although I'm pleased that I decided to do it with you and not David Bowie.'
'Ah, well ... his loss,' I said. I undid another couple of buttons, exposing Tina's almost-ample breasts, and I must confess that I was unable to resist massaging each of her erect pink nipples with the tip of my Stoli-coated tongue. And then, dropping to my knees, it was back to liberating buttons from their buttonholes.
After three more buttons, I was covering her softly-rounded tummy with kisses. And after one more, my tongue was burrowing through her almost wispy tangle of fragrant pubic hair, searching for her secret valley.
'Oh, yes,' Tina whispered.
There were three or four more buttons to go, but we didn't get that far. Tina shrugged the now open garment from her shoulders and it fell, gracefully, to the floor. Now free of all encumbrances, she once more perched herself on the edge of the kitchen table and spread her thighs allowing me easier access to her pink pudendum.
For the next few minutes, I ploughed her slippery crevice with my tongue, pausing at the top of each of the upstrokes to minister to her prominent clit, while Tina sighed and moaned and squealed.
'And now ...' she said, eventually. And she lowered my briefs, freeing my now-throbbing hard on, and licking its head as though it was the best-ever ice cream on a perfect summer's day. 'Ready?' she enquired. And she turned and leaned across the small kitchen table, presenting me with her pale and perfectly-padded arse, and a peep of what my mate Baz would refer to as her wet and waiting serpent socket. It was all the invitation that I required.
My serpent (to continue the analogy) slowly pushed its way between Tina's luscious labia and deep into her tunnel of lust. Then gently out (well, almost), and gently back in again. Gently out .... But gentle was not what Tina had in mind.
As I thrust gently forward, she thrust vigorously back to meet me. And so the pace was set. And, with each of my thrusts, Tina let out a sound that was part grunt and part squeal, a sound that would have brought a smile of satisfaction to a Russian tennis player in the final stages of a major tournament. What any passer-by in the street below might have thought was going on is anyone's guess. A televised replay of a Wimbledon semi-final perhaps?
As much as I would have liked to have gone on and on and on, after four or five minutes I knew that the end was drawing nigh. A couple more vigorous thrusts and I pulled out just in time to spurt three or four generous ropes of pearly cum over Tina's beautiful backside.
'Whee!' Tina said, now smilingly like the cat that had not only got all the cream (which, in a sense, she had) but had also managed to negotiate an ongoing deal with the local dairy farmer. 'This stalking is pretty damn good, isn't it? I wish I'd discovered it earlier.'
Of course we hadn't finished. In fact, we'd barely started. But, for the moment anyway, my legs had more or less given out. And so we retired to Tina's bedroom and the luxury of her queen-sized bed.
Later, we wandered down to a little Italian place just around the corner for a bit of supper. And then it was back to Tina's place for Round Three. Or was it Round Four?
Yes, as my mother said all those years ago: it's the quiet ones that you have to watch out for.
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