I couldn’t sleep one night, and then I became aware that someone was moving around outside my window. I lived in a ground floor flat in a quiet street, and I had a creepy neighbour who liked to peer into my room, so there was no way in hell I was going to open the curtains and potentially come face to face with him. I listened to the noises – something being poured, something going up in flames – and when I was sure the person had gone away, I peeked outside and saw a car on fire right in front of my flat. I called the fire brigade, and then the police came round to get a statement from me.
Some months on, I was summoned to court. I explained to the police officer who came round that I hadn’t actually seen anyone and had no idea who did it, but he said they wanted me to give evidence anyway, “to set the scene”. This was okay. I was working that summer at the medical school, coding surveys (I still automatically think “104” when anybody mentions Muirhouse), and I pretty much chose my own hours. This meant that I was being more and more of a slacker while I focused on my social life. However, my boss was more than happy to fill in a form saying that I worked nine to five, so that I got refunded for the earnings I missed while I was at court.
A few days after the trial (the defendant was not convicted, as it turned out), I went to Divine Divas with my friend Gurnam. On the way there, I was talking about how I found it so much harder to meet women than men, how it was kind of frustrating. This was an early example of foreshadowing, a plot device in which the author drops subtle hints about upcoming developments, and of which there will be plenty more as this blog goes along. On this particular night, I met a woman at Divine Divas who’d also been a witness in the case. She lived a few streets away and had also found a car on fire outside her place. Her dykey haircut and the rainbow earrings had been a dead giveaway when we were waiting to give evidence, but she said that she hadn’t realised I was queer, which I found slightly disappointing.
So we went back to her place and had sex.
We hung out a couple times after that, although I think she tended to have a friend or an ex-girlfriend present. I was 21 and she was 38, which was pretty much the biggest age gap I’ve had. (I think #111 was a couple of years older than her, but I only kissed him, and wouldn’t have considered anything further.) One night, she got drunk and phoned me up, and I felt bad for her because she was trying not to ask whether anything more was going to happen, and failing to stick to that plan. By then, I’d gotten involved with #78 and although it wasn’t an official relationship yet, I was too distracted to get off with anyone else.