It's one of those dutiful nights. Where, despite being absolutely exhausted, I've given in, pulled on the black jeans, curled a few strands of hair and slicked on some baby pink lipstick and dragged myself to a pub half way across London - all for love. Alright, for Liam. So I agree to a cheap house white - as long as it comes with a 'tap water and ice'- and I sit back at the table which is surrounded with all his friends, and I try to laugh at the right moments, and not shudder at how acidic my wine is.
It's late. The pub's noisy. A girl in a heavy knitted cardigan has started swaying on her own to '99 Red Balloons' and waving at herself in the mirrors. There's talk of another round of drinks. Someone's smoking off the balcony. No one seems to mind.
"Just nipping to the loo." I say, squeezing Liam on the arm. I slope in and out the obstacle course of wooden pub chairs, avoiding people and pints alike. I've not been here before. I squint, looking for a sign, wishing I'd put my glasses on. I hope I won't walk into the men's toilet, which often tends to happen. In a dark corner painted a grubby green, I spy the door. Then a pointy hand with toilets written on it politely. I push it and enter.
Suddenly I'm faced with two whitewashed doors with absolutely no signs. It's like Alice In Wonderland- I just need a white rabbit. I stop for a moment, wondering which one I should push before a voice pipes up from behind me.
"Well that's not very helpful, is it?" A girl says in a soft Irish accent. "Chance it for the one on the left."
I push the door, and by the smell alone, we realise we've hit the wrong one.
"Whoops!" I shriek, and laugh, bursting quickly through the door on the right.
What a state. Tissues all over the floor, water on the basins and soap smeared up the mirrors. It was definitely the ladies toilet. If it wasn't obvious from the mess, both cubicles are locked. She makes a point of hammering on each door and telling the occupants to "bloody hurry up".
I stand opposite the large mirror. My reflection stares back at me and my curls have gone flat. I sigh, open my handbag and reach for my hairbrush. As I'm fumbling about I notice that the girl is staring at me.
"English girls are so pretty." She says casually, turning to apply her lipstick.
"Oh, really?" I laugh off the compliment.
"Absolutely. You're really pretty." She says, turning to look at me and half smiled.
Not quite sure what to say, I laugh. "I'm sure I look tired." I say, embarrassed. There was a flicker of something else in that smile.
"Are you from 'round here?" And without waiting for the answer she says, "I'm staying with my friend near Clapham."
She definitely wasn't a Londoner. She was far too friendly. I stole a quick glance at her face as she was busy fluffing her hair and talking about her friend's flat. She was quirky. Dark haired and pale with big blue eyes- typically Irish.
As I start a polite but distant response, the toilet flushes from behind one of the cubicles. She stops fluffing to glare at a sheepish looking girl who walks out alone, who decides against washing her hands to just exit as swiftly as possible.
"After you." I say.
There's an awkward quiet in the toilet. God knows what going on in the other cubicle. The Irish girl grins and clacks her cute black boots across the lino into the cubicle. I busy myself fiddling with a loose curl up close in the mirror. She pauses as she pushes the door. I notice that there are loads of odes to love and hate written across the back wall in different lipsticks and eye liners. What's she pausing for? She suddenly spins on her heel to face me and I half expect her to ask me to join her.
"D'you have a boyfriend then?" She tilts her head and wrinkles her nose as I nod. "Shame. Course y'do. You're dead pretty. I'd be surprised if yer didn't." Then she strides into the toilet cubicle and closes the door.
Afraid of the silence and not wanting to hear her pee, I turn the taps on full and pretend to wash my hands. Yelling over the water splashing across the sinks and onto the floor, I shout, "Yep. He's quite a nice one too. Been together ages." Then I add (because I now have a feeling that I need to make myself appear less available), "We have a cat."
She might just be a non-Londoner who hadn't yet realised that in London you just don't talk to strangers. But no denying it, there was definite flirting. I didn't know what to do... Run? Or stand there red-faced when she came out the loo?
Thing was, I couldn't run. I still really needed to pee.
So I stayed. I'll admit, part of me was pretty chuffed. Having never been hit on by a girl, I found it all rather exciting. There was no sleaze. No ass-checking, boob-staring or cheesy chat up lines falling from slurring lips. A definite improvement on the usual. For a moment, it was pretty scary when she leant forward to kiss me goodbye. Just a friendly two-cheeker - though I swear to God she sniffed me. I left the ladies toilet in air of smugness and made my way back to the rickety wooden table where Liam was playing around with beer mats, and his friends were singing along to Chumbawamba's 'Tubthumping'.
Later on, when a few of his mates had been asked politely - then less politely - to stop dancing on the tables, we made our way out of the pub and into the fresh air to queue up by the hundreds of late night drinkers looking to making their way home at the bus stop.
I leant on Liam and put my arm around his waist. "Guess what?" I asked, teasing. "I got asked out tonight by a girl."
"I did." I said, looking all smug. He smelt of fags, lager and possibly something vaguely cheese and oniony. I sniffed him. "You stink." I said, poking him.
"You love it." He grabbed me tight.
"Only a little bit." I said wrinkling my nose. No, he was right. Such an appealing smell. I wasn't ready to become a lesbian just yet.