Many years ago, I was sitting at my desk at work when I got a tap on the shoulder. “Do you fancy a pint at lunchtime?” Being the new guy in the office, and wanting to ingratiate myself, I accepted the offer. I didn’t really know much about Giles, aside from noting a few marginally-visible tattoos, that he seemed generally friendly and that he was a junior stockbroker.
Lunchtime came around and we headed off to a “good pub that I know.” Our office was on the edge of the City, the heart of London’s financial district, and in walking distance of the ‘Ten Bells’, or whatever our drinking destination was called. I’d never worked in the City before then but its reputation for male-dominated liquid lunches was legendary back then. Still, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.
From drinking a pint to marrying a stripper (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We walked into a very old world dive. Tatty carpets, brown walls and cigarette smoke. It was like an old man’s pub from the 1960s, only it was full of young men in 1990s pinstripes. It took me a moment or two to notice the performance going on towards the back. It took a moment or two more to notice it was a naked woman.
It all felt quite surreal and I felt a bit embarrassed – not in a prudish or morally judgmental way (although it did feel a bit weird), but more because I didn’t remotely see that coming.
As we chatted, Giles took one look at the dancer and turned away. It was then that he dropped his first bombshell. “I can’t look. That’s my sister-in-law.” My mind was scrambling for meaning. “Poor Giles came out for a quiet drink and was shocked to see this extended family member with no clothes on,” was my first thought. Then he padded out his comment:
“Well, strictly speaking she’s my ex-sister in-law.”
“Yeah, she’s my ex-wife’s sister.”
“She came over to London from Brazil when her husband found out how much money my wife had been making stripping.”
Ok, now I wasn’t expecting that.
He could see that my poker face had been replaced by mild shock. So he filled me in.
A few years prior, he had been out with a previous girlfriend. At some point during the evening his girlfriend decided to call it a night. But Giles wanted to stay out, so he had a few more drinks with friends. When it came to home time he jumped into a cab. But when the taxi driver said he didn’t have enough change for a £50 note, Giles went to the “nearest pub” to get some smaller notes. He didn’t leave that pub until the early hours because it was there that he saw his future wife performing.
They were married within months, she stopped stripping and were together for a few years. As he was retelling this story, I could see his ex-sister in-law walking around the pub with a pint glass, collecting one pound coins from punters. She approached us, noticed Giles, nodded and walked on.
We never talked about the incident after that and we lost contact a year or two afterwards. I would love to know what he’s up to these days, and whether he remembers to carry smaller notes in his wallet these days.
I'm a finance man by background, but by nature and interest I'm also a trained life coach, traveler and observer of life. I've lived in a few countries, gone through a few ups and downs, but I'm still standing. I've blogged on and off for the last five years.