Not for the first time whilst gripped by writers’ block, I find myself turning to Giles Smith for a little inspiration.
You get the feeling he is holding back a bit on this one though - probably due to the simple lack of real estate afforded to his column by those sticklers at The Times. I, for one, would have relished a more explosive pay-off – a darting bodice-ripper, if you will - but the guy has a word limit and a sidebar on Roman Abramovich to squeeze in so I’m not going to have a pop at him for brevity.
Regular Giles readers will know that darts holds a very special place in his heart – so presumably it is a joyously small hop from fondly recounting a cherished Sid Waddell anecdote to knocking out spoof chick-lit about Darren “The Fitter” Fitman.
I have always concurred (subconsciously, it transpires) that the “thunk” of tungsten on corkboard has a deliciously alluring appeal. Throw in a candidly-placed effects mic and the heady sexual tension of a lager-drenched Lakeside Country Club, Frimley Green - and you have all the ingredients for heart-hammering drama.
A logical progression, what with the bitter schism between the two professional darting codes, might be a forbidden and frankly groundbreaking homo-erotic slant: How about Ted “The Count” Hankey – leading light of the earthy, poverty-ridden BDO franchise - in a Romeo and Juliet-style tryst with Phil “the Power” Taylor from the bling-rich PDC?
The cloying urgency of damp polyester smocks clinging to manly chest hair? A stolen glance across a recently-opened packet of over-priced pork scratchings? The heart-wrenching agony of a missed bullseye after sticking two in the bed on a champagne check-out of 170? This stuff practically writes itself.
I can see it now: The Power is on a double-sixteen finish for the unification title, but, seeing the despair etched across Hankey’s grizzled features, puts down his trusty Sigma pro-steel-tip arrow and holds his opponent in an embrace that, in one sweeping gesture, dismantles the barriers between the two feuding organisations and brings metrosexuality to Purfleet.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. That’s not darts. And it’s certainly not Mills and Boon. As far as I know, both institutions remain steadfastly heterosexual – and who am I, a mere novice, to tamper with the formula?
It might be better, upon reflection, to stick to a hoarier theme - but there is clearly mileage in the romantic literature / locker room crossover, and I consider it a duty to continue Giles’ work - even if it means spending most of the day rifling through the thesaurus for analogies involving bosom-heaving, or similes for “fervent”. Sit back, then, and prepare for an avalanche of adverbs as…
Colleen dumped her bulging Luis Vuitton bag petulantly onto the dining room table and huffed audibly. Wazza barely looked up from his Pro-Evolution Soccer, but acknowledged her presence by lifting a gluttonous buttock and breaking wind smugly.
Goodness, she thought. Must he be so beastly?
She found her mind wandering fondly back to that stolen latte and cheese and onion toastie at the Huyton Starbucks yesterday afternoon.
Cristiano was different, she decided, with his smooth olive skin and eyes that resembled smouldering coals and creased adorably at the corners as they giggled conspiratorially over Wayne’s dubious table manners. When he had recounted the tale of the craftily stashed fish finger in Gary Neville’s Lucozade Sport at the Carrington training ground, the Portuguese dreamboat’s contempt was so tangible and mocking that she flushed with embarrassment that she had seen fit to marry such a gurning simpleton.
He could be mean, actually, Cristiano – but, oh – that baby-faced swagger! Those muscular thighs! She had gasped out loud as she brushed his lap accidentally-on-purpose whilst retrieving a serendipitously misplaced napkin that had fallen onto the seat between them – and it was this first flush of girly pulse-quickening that had hardened her resolve to pursue the flirtation further.
Colleen’s European awakening had been born some months previously during a particularly painful all-inclusive Greek island holiday. Wayne had the tiresome habit of populating their “romantic getaways” with thick-set acquaintances called “Shagger Dave” or “Jimmy the Tosser” – who would spend most of their time lounging poolside with bottles of strong continental lager, occasionally plunging pastily into the water or pelting cherry bombs at tabloid journalists.
She had reasoned that, once they were married, her husband would drop the entourage and show her the tender affection she so craved, but on this recent trip the mob was bigger and more stubbornly vulgar than ever, and she spent many forlorn hours on a sun-dappled terrace near their apartment reading Grazia in the futile hope that Wayne might sweep her into the bedroom and make gentle love to her as the wind ruffled the curtains and the ocean lapped the beach – but he was usually too embroiled in pool tournaments with tattooed thugs in Everton shirts.
Her dormant frustration was finally exposed by an amorous Kefalonian waiter who bombarded her with urgent gazes and complimentary Slippery Nipples. Normally she would have scoffed at his swarthy features and unashamed flattery, but when he finally made his move, sidling silently behind her and massaging her neck softly as she lay engrossed in a feature article on 50 Tell-tale Signs your Lover is Cheating, she was flabbergasted to feel a surge of exhilaration, and even more surprised that she encouraged his touch by relaxing her shoulders and emitting low moans of pleasure.
Wayne, such was his infuriating sense of timing, chose this moment to barrel through the French windows like a great hulking St Bernard puppy, and the waiter skulked back into the shadows, but her growing resentment of tracksuited Liverpudlian youths and their juvenile behaviour continued apace from then on.
Once she had found excitement in the quaint naivete of these Scouse charmers - she would even smile wanly at the doner kebabs, the late night Texas Hold’em and the hub-cap collections. Now she had moved on.
No longer the trophy wife, she was a writer, an agony aunt - a fashion icon, for goodness sake. Wayne could never keep up, with his awkward, goofy Shrek head and tiresome habit of slurping his Super Noodles. Cristiano would never belch songs by the Arctic Monkeys during dinners at the Ivy, that’s for sure.
This was different. This was grown-up.
* * * * *
“I’m off out Honey Pie,” she called out airily – trying to force any trace of excitement from her voice.
“OK la, Pet. Can you pick me up a Whopper and some onion rings, our kid?” Wazza grunted from the fetid pit of his custom-built den, where the monotonous hum of Sky Sports News competed for attention with Jimmy and Shagger’s raucous game of Grand Theft Auto.
“Will do, Sausage.” She paused. “Might be a bit late though, Pumpkin…”
Wayne didn’t respond, but instead brayed childishly at some indistinct but no doubt jocular quip from within his band of sycophants. She slid guiltily from the house in full make-up and a sexy off-the shoulder Gucci number, worrying for the millionth time if she was doing the right thing.
Cristiano had taken her call on the eighth ring with his usual distracted broken English, yielding little in the way of emotion. Yes, he was home and she was welcome to join him, but he was hardly falling over himself with enthusiasm. Such was the way with these smouldering continental types, she decided – but she couldn’t help feeling a little miffed.
Parking up at the tree-lined Wilmslow mansion, her sporty little purple Mini swamped in a sea of Bentleys and Jags, Colleen felt the first twinge of regret that she was jeopardising her carefully-crafted reputation as a squeaky-clean girl-next-door so wilfully – but the moment the World Footballer of the Year answered the door, resplendent in monogrammed white linen and chunky gold jewellery, all sanity and caution was lost in a whirlpool of desire.
“Drink?” he asked broodingly, as he took her favourite House of Fraser cropped leather jacket and flung it on a handily-placed chaise-longue. Banter was never his strong suit, and barely a dozen awkward pleasantries passed between them in the twenty minutes it took her to drain a large vodka tonic and accept his invitation of a “grand tour”.
She knew what that meant. Wazza had employed the same tactic – though with less ruthless efficiency – when he asked her sheepishly if she wanted to “come and see his Star Wars duvet” all those years ago at his digs near Stanley Park. She guessed, with a pang of sadness, that this time her inveiglement would not involve a mix-tape of Atomic Kitten and a packet of ginger biscuits.
Entering the master bedroom, her heart was crashing extravagantly as if an over-exuberant timpani player had taken residence in her ribcage. Cristiano’s eyes narrowed slightly and he wetted is bottom lip with his tongue - an almost involuntary motion that either betrayed his own nervousness or was a predatory pre-curser to what was to come.
Colleen felt her stomach lurch in an ardent restlessness she hadn’t experienced since discovering Ugg boots were 30% off at Cricket.
With the flick of a switch, and a great whirring sound, the giant bed – bedecked in leopard-print and satin - began revolving hypnotically and Enrico Inglesias crooned out of the space-age sound system. She looked up and caught her panicked, scarlet features gazing back from the mirror on the ceiling. There were mirrors everywhere, in fact – so much so, that the two of them seemed entwined in an infinite spiral of dishonesty and lust.
With her lips frozen and ajar, Cristiano lunged brutally into a kiss that almost knocked her out of her Jimmy Choos, and, as his hands moved with practiced ease to the zip of her dress, the enormity of the situation struck her between the eyes like a dipping free-kick.
“Stop!” she cried out, tears cascading down her scalding cheeks. “I can’t!”
The Iberian Adonis pulled back, annoyed, and folded his arms. “What’s the matter, Senorita?” He almost spat it – evidently not used to unscheduled resistance to his seduction technique.
“I’m so sorry Cristiano,” she gasped, “but I love my Wayne!”
“Your ‘usband is an oaf,” he grumbled. “You deserve to be treated like a woman.”
He went to embrace her again in a final attempt to banish the doubts through sheer strong-armed fervour, but she managed to wriggle free and ran sobbing from the house, occasionally turning to offer a strangled apology for her appalling behaviour.
As the Mini roared into life, she spotted him at the front door in her rear-view mirror. He stared at her vacantly, his hands already moving to his gold-plated Motorola as she drove away. No doubt there were plenty of other floozies all too ready to fill the void, she thought grimly. Sexy girls who wouldn’t run out like a frightened gazelle at the first sign of passion.
Poor Wazza! She could picture him now with his big soppy cheeks and his lop-sided grin – so trusting, so loyal, so… loving in his own gormless way. She made a stern, silent vow never to let him down again.
The Other Man
The sun was disappearing in a blaze of wintry glory as she pulled the Mini off the M62 and into Wavertree services. He was going to get the biggest, juiciest Burger King EVER…