The Pimlico Party

The Pimlico Party

Status: In Progress

Genre: Romance

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Details

Status: In Progress

Genre: Romance

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Summary

Jess is in her early twenties and finds herself suddenly single and living in London. Could the Pimlico Party be the gateway to all her romantic dreams?
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Summary

Jess is in her early twenties and finds herself suddenly single and living in London. Could the Pimlico Party be the gateway to all her romantic dreams?

Content

Submitted: March 30, 2017

A A A | A A A

Content

Submitted: March 30, 2017

A A A

A A A


The Pimlico Party

Jennifer Palmer

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

Sarah and I were total opposites. We worked together and had never really considered the other as a proper friend. That was until I found myself suddenly single and homeless. In a true hollywood-style plot twist, Sarah was the last person I ever would have guessed would spring to my rescue. But here I was, living in her room with her in Shoreditch. It was the summer of 2013 and the start of the rest of my life.

I could tell she hadn't had a proper female friend for a long time. My new found single status had come as a shock to both of us and she was certainly making the most of it. Not that I was complaining. I was thoroughly enjoying watching her wave her feet in the air as she systematically explained to me who each of her male friends were and who was 'fair game.' Upside down, with her feet trailing up the wall, she was happy as a lark scrolling through Facebook and taking me through my complex enrolment into her ‘Girl Army.’

“That's Allan. He's engaged to Linda.”

She was deep into the explanation of her intricate and complex friend tapestry, and my face was screwed up in concentration.

“They're the ‘Crux Couple’ of the group and throw the most epic house-parties.”

The term 'epic' had died a violent death long time ago. However, Sarah lived in a shared flat over Petticoat Lane Market in central London and, as a certified hipster, she could use this type of retro slang ironically.

“Allan's brother,” she continued, “is fair game. He has a girlfriend but James and I recon we can fix that.”

James was Sarah's G.B.F. A term I had just learned. Between the two of them, they now formed my entire friendship circle and belonged to both the temporary homes I currently sofa-surfed between. As struggling actors, they fancied themselves as the puppet-masters in the world of their single twenty-something friends. They could create the situations and choose the players. It was a good way to pass the time…but only if you were a player in their favour.

“Paul and Carl are your best bet”, she continued. “They’re both ‘vertically challenged,’ but ultimately lovely. I'd go for Paul as he's less bald.” 

“Great,” I thought to myself.

I was so excited for the party. I'd missed the preliminaries in Birmingham thrown by Allan and Linda, so James was throwing another one in his basement flat in Pimlico. All their friends, extended friends and friends of friends were invited. I had no idea how all these people were going fit onto the premises.

“Is Shayne coming?” I enquired as non-chalantly as possible. Shayne had been my first ever 'fling' earlier that month. Obviously set up by Sarah and James, Shayne was an American actor with an ego the size of his equipment. Both substantial but neither ultimately useful. It had been a pretty exciting week, until he decided I was falling in love with him and 'couldn't deal with the drama.' This was based on a single drunken comment I made about marrying him so he could extend his visa and stay in the country. He was shocked when I kicked him to the curb. Drama indeed.

“Oh! And…" Sarah pulled me back from my reverie. “If you get stuck talking to Jack Alcott, give me the signal and I'll come and rescue you.”

“Who's Jack Alcott?” I asked, smirking at the mental image I had of myself sending panicked sign-language signals to Sarah across the room, while a poor stranger stared on in confusion.

Sarah sighed. “Jack Alcott is the most morose man on the planet. All he does is turn up to parties and cry.”

“Well then why do you invite him?” I asked, laughing. I was surprised at this description. So far everyone in Sarah's circle had been 'excellent', 'wicked' and of course, ‘epic.'

“Hmm. He's part of the larger clique”, Sarah mused, considering the role of Jack in her life for quite possibly the first time ever. “Anyway, he's going through a divorce after marrying his childhood sweetheart only a year ago. They were too young - it was never going to work.”

For some reason, I felt instantly sorry for Jack. My recent break-up had also been with my childhood sweetheart. It had been a ten year relationship with only marriage and babies in the future. This had been versus me with my unquenchable thirst for fun and adventure. I'd finally had to end it and it had been more than painful. But now I was doing all I could to embrace my new found freedom, despite now being technically homeless. All I really had was Sarah, her 'Gay Best Friend' and, soon, 'The Girl Army' (Glarmy.) Plus all who came in their wake. 

I made a mental note to attempt to become Jack's friend. Maybe I was the only other person our age with any idea as to what he was going through. Perhaps I could persuade him that single life was actually okay and to try to embrace his new life. I'd have plenty on my plate avoiding Shayne anyway. A proper conversation with someone new would be a welcome change. 

“Its a shame really as he is totally the best looking guy.” I looked up to see Sarah scrolling slowly through a new Facebook profile. “Shame…" she muttered again. 

Holding out the phone to me, she revealed a photo of a couple. Foreheads pressed together, the girl looking playful, the guy, peaceful. It was Jack's profile picture. 

“He's stunning”, I muttered, eyes fixed on the loose, gentle curl of dark hair escaping onto his forehead.

“Yeah.” Said Sarah, scanning through her phone again and revealing his only other profile picture. It was of Jack outdoors in a long coat. Solemn and solo. Looking unsure as to how to be alone.

“I bet he needs a proper friend”, I offered sadly.

Sarah beat me on the head with a pillow and hurtled me back to reality. “You are so damn Disney!” she yelled out in desperation. “We've got to sort you out, Jess!”

I still had a lot to learn about meeting men.

 

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

As much as I was making the most of my nomadic existence, I couldn't wait to move into my new flat-share. Before the break-up, I had been living with my boyfriend, my then best friend and her boyfriend. For eighteen months we did an excellent impression of four friends who got along and enjoyed each others company. Of course all the cracks came to light once it was over and we were all definitely better off apart. 

After the break-up, three weeks of my life had been spent painfully viewing every available room in London, in between shifts at my part-time job. This had been a harrowing experience that nobody should ever have to endure. Eventually, I was offered a beautiful bright double bedroom, in a split-level flat in Kensal Rise. I would be sharing the apartment with two other girls my age. It was £100 a month out of my price range and I accepted it immediately. Now all I had to do was wait for four weeks for the current tenant to move out.

So this was my life at twenty-four. Single, homeless, poor and living in London. Not exactly what I'd planned, but at least I finally had my precious mental health. It had been a vicious two years living a life I'd been too afraid to admit I hated. Along the road I'd met a plethora of selfish, cruel people and only blamed myself for the experiences. I was more than ready to start again.

“Seriously though, this is too much boob, yes?”

Back to business. Sarah had bought a new, white dress for the party and was trying to get me to say the right combination of words to make it acceptable for wearing in public.

“I'm going for a sexy, medieval, damsel-in-distress-type-thing.”

I was pretty sure none of those words belonged in the same description, but I did my sacred duty as 'closest female friend' as best I could.

Head tilted and eyes narrowed, I considered her ensemble slowly. “If you've got it, flaunt it? Isn't ‘booby’ what you're going for, anyway?” Honesty, with a twist of a compliment. Perfect.

“Yes but I don't want it to look like I'm going for it!” Ugh. Being a girl's friend is hard.

I tried another tact. “Is this all so you can get Grant's attention?” Despite herself, Sarah blushed. I had nailed it.

Grant was, from what I could gather, the cockerel of the group. He was desired by the alpha female, Beth, of the 'Girl Army' and therefore by every other girl as well. I'd seen pictures of him and couldn't see the appeal, so I'd chalked it up to charisma. The real irony was that he was slowly going blind, so he'd never be able to tell Sarah was ‘too booby' anyway. Sarah pouted at her reflection and eventually decided, “James will know.” I was off the hook.

“So, how go the preparations for the move?”, she enquired. “Have you started thinking about a house-warming yet?”

Good old Sarah. Completely over-looking the fact that I was renting a room and not a house. A minor fact that would render a party impossible.

“I was thinking more of a singles night out in Soho. You know, gather the troops for a proper night out. But you and I could get ready and do pre-drinks at my new place?”  I was getting used to skirting around any real issues by telling Sarah what she wanted to hear. 

“Great idea.” She said. “Keep it exclusive.” 

 

 

CHAPTER THREE

 

I existed for four weeks as best I could. Living out of a backpack, which always contained clean underwear, make-up wipes and three sachets of porridge oats. The stress and the lifestyle meant I dropped way below my usual body-weight, but the truth was that I looked fantastic for the first time ever. Sarah took me everywhere and the month passed by in a drunken blur. We soaked up London and everything it had to offer. We went to everything we heard about, including a multi-sensory screening in a warehouse in Soho of Buffy The Vampire Slayer the Musical. My life was a treadmill and I had no time or desire to stop. By the time it came to moving, I was pretty sure James and Sarah were just as desperate as I was to have some space. I was deeply grateful for all they had done for me and would see them soon at the party in Pimlico.

My Mother and younger sister drove down from the Midlands to help me move into, what they fondly named, my 'Bachelorette Pad.' I appreciated this, as they themselves had been through so much recently too.

My sister had been suffering with her mental health for years and one morning whilst I was at Sarah's, she had phoned to tell me she had gotten overwhelmed and taken over thirty sleeping pills. The day was terrifying and it had been up to me to call an ambulance and rally my family. By the time I'd spent every penny I had to get to her, it had been revealed that she'd taken less than half the amount she'd said and had never put herself in any real danger. At the time I was just glad she was okay, but, amongst everything else, it had meant missing my first party in Birmingham. I felt selfish to be angry about it, but it was going to be my debut as an independent woman. However, I reverted to my old habits and did the mature thing. I adopted the role of parent and stayed home to look after her.

“How is work going?”, Mum enquired brightly. My Mum had never thought my ex was right for me and, despite being devastated that I'd been through so much, she was so glad that I was now finally free to be young and happy. She had often mentioned during my relationship that I should be ‘playing the field’ at my age. At the time I was angry for her insensitivity and the fact that she wasn’t aware my boyfriend offered me the only stability in my life. I wasn’t going to give that up easily. Now, ten years later, I could see where she had been coming from.

“It's actually great. My job is the rock that keeps me going.” I answered. This much was true. I had taken a part-time job as a children's music teacher and it had turned out to be the perfect job for me. It was also how I'd met Sarah. We worked for a cute little company that taught music in the early years and to the accompanying adults. My boss was incredible and had been so supportive through it all. Also, the parents of the students were well-to-do Londoners and took a massive shine to me. As soon as word had gotten out that I was struggling financially, they had leapt to my aid. 

“I've been offered loads of babysitting and ad-hoc nannying jobs to subsidise my rent so I'm sure I'll be okay.” Money had always been a worry in our family, having never had much. I'd pre-empted my Mum's next question and I saw her visibly relax behind the steering wheel.

“I'm so proud of you. I couldn't do what you're doing.” This much was true. Despite our rocky relationship, she was helping as best she could. In the moment, I was glad of her support.

 

 

 

CHAPTER FOUR

 

Shaved legs, check. 

Wavy hair, check. 

Spray tan, perfume, lipstick, bangles, new dress (Topshop), check! 

Flats, check. Or heels? Flats…or...heels?...

Without Sarah there to tell me exactly what to do, it had taken a week of preparation to get myself both physically and mentally prepared for the party. Sarah had been drinking at the party from the night before with her sister, Faye. I was under instruction to arrive at 2pm, before the real party kicked off at 8pm. It was to be my first introduction with the leaders of the Glarmy.

More importantly, it was the first time I was going to see Shayne since I gave him the boot and I needed to look…epic.

It was 1pm and I had a twenty minute tube journey to Pimlico. Sarah had done the journey the weekend previous to visit me and to time the distance. Also to drink my wine.

Feeling crispy from hairspray and scared to sit on my bed for fear of leaving a tan stain, I was pretty sure this was the most 'ready' I had ever been for anything. I'd always been a nightmare in heels, so I gave myself a break and slipped on a pair of black, satin, ballerina-style pumps. 

Grabbing my bag, I headed for the door. Unaware that my new flatmate, Juliet, had slipped into the kitchen, I was shocked and thrilled to receive a wolf-whistle from the vicinity of the fridge-freezer.

'You go get dem, Mees Lopez!' She yelled, in her delicious Spanish accent. I grinned and wondered how I'd ever ended up living with a girl so effortlessly cool. With her approval ringing in my ears, I skipped down the stairs to ground-level and off into the London sunshine. It was a glorious June afternoon and I was finally a gorgeous free-spirit, groomed, care-free and ready for the taking. 

I popped my earphones in and selected a song from my list of up-beat music. I had made a promise to myself after the break-up, no more sad songs, no more dark thoughts and no more negativity. Starting with the music I filled my head with and the people I surrounded myself with.

It was this new mentality that had made me decide to quit the acting industry once and for all. I had loved my time at drama school and was proud of myself for chasing my dreams all the way down to London. However, it had become abundantly clear that the industry was full of selfish people, including my ex. His drive and ambition that had attracted me to him in the first place, turned out to be the thing that drove us apart in the end. Nothing mattered more to him than his career. This revelation had been extremely painful, especially after a childhood in the shadow of neglectful parents. It was only now, in my single-status that I felt like the priority in my life. I could easily wallow in the sad fact that it had taken twenty-four years to reach this point, or I could refuse to waste another second and enjoy every detail in life. Starting with a fabulous party in Pimlico.

I loved living in North London. Having lived in squalor in South East London for eighteen months, I walked with intention around my new neighbourhood, enjoying every crisp, white terraced building for its beautiful and purposeful architecture. Nobody lived above an estate agents in Kensal Green. Something I would never take for granted. I made my way to the overground station and breezed through the ticket barriers. This was a journey I knew well from my time living with James and I reflected upon the difference I felt from when I first moved to London. Navigating the underground system had been terrifying. I remembered asking a friend how anyone could march about the underground at top speed, without ever having to consult a map. They had wisely pointed out that most people walked the same route every day. The monotony of which was also probably what made Londoners so irritable. I smiled to myself, recognising the same aggressive pace in my own footsteps now that I had earned my place as a London resident.

I surfaced at Pimlico station and my bangles provided the only sound in the street as I made my way to the flat. It had just gone 2pm and I wondered if I should have brought food with me for the buffet. Little did I know that this was about to be a party like no other and any pre-made sandwiches would have served no place at a Pimlico Party.

 

 

CHAPTER FIVE

 

“Faye needs ham!”

When I arrived, Sarah was a fabulous mess. She, her sister Faye and alpha female Beth has began drinking the evening before and, from what I could gather, had not stopped. 

“Jess! Where are your drinks!?” Sarah demanded, horrified. I had made the foolish mistake of arriving empty-handed.

“Well I didn’t want to carry it all on the tube,” I lied swiftly having had the insane assumption that drinks and food would be provided.

“That’s okay because Faye needs ham, so I will go with you to the shop,” offered a tall, inebriated friend of Faye’s. I had just met Darren, who was the juxtaposition of himself. An intelligent man in a crisp, ironed shirt, drunk as a fifteen year old boy and spouting nonsense already. Fortunately, I felt confident in my knowledge of the local area and my ability to babysit him and agreed to let him accompany me. 

I did manage to lose him briefly in the shop, until I discovered him laughing heartily in the alcohol isle at a very cheap brand of cider called: ‘Frosty Jacks.’ A name and a price that he found so hilarious, he insisted we buy as much as we could carry and force the party guests to consume it all in the name of irony. To my surprise, he was greeted as a hero upon our return and ‘Frosty Jacks’ went on to become a recurring punchline for the rest of the evening.

For the next few hours, I made my way around talking to every face I found, drinking in their newness and being genuinely fascinated in everything they had to say. I was a total blank page, ready to consume everything the world had to offer. Most of all, I was thrilled to not be in a room full of actors for a change, explain-a-bragging about themselves, their projects and their contacts. 

By around 4pm, it had become brazenly clear that Shayne would not be attending the party. He had finally succumbed to Sarah’s multiple text messages and fobbed her off with the excuse of a stomach ache. The Glarmy leapt all over this blatant lie and span the story in my favour. Apparently his being too cowardly to face me made it clear her had been in the wrong all along.

“Jess! Come and get on the jäger train! Choo Choo!” I was reduced to belly-laughing by the bellowing call of Sarah from somewhere in the kitchen. I was so grateful to her. She had found the perfect balance of allowing me to drift from person to person at the party, whilst still keeping me under her wing. I admired her ability to float so fabulously through life, whilst hiding all the pain I knew she harboured underneath. I knew she thought we were both too drunk to remember our late-night confessional sleep-overs, but I could recall everything she had told me. It was sad but I could always remind myself in my weak moments that my problems were nowhere near as bad as hers and if she could get by so gracefully, then so could I. 

“No not yet! Wait for Jess! Jess, come on!” I had been warned about the ‘jäger train’, a Glarmy tradition at the parties. Apparently this was my stop and Sarah was holding my ticket, a dangerous looking shot glass full of liquorice-smelling regret. 

“Choo choo!” I cried, faithfully. Through a crowd of cheers, I knocked back my liquid initiation into the group. Photos were taken and a spontaneous group hug broke out through loud chorus of promises to ‘stay awesome’. The moment was broken by music suddenly blaring our from the other room and squeals from the Glarmy about it being “our song!” Caught up in the stampede, we raced from the kitchen to the lounge to begin the dance party. A mix of jägermeister and gratefulness warmed my heart, as I sang all the words with confidence thanks to Sarah’s preparation classes. Nothing could make this night better. 

As the afternoon wore on, I tried to keep a mental tab on matching names to faces. So far I had met almost everyone from the ‘approved list of men’ and been disappointingly underwhelmed by all of them. 

A victorious and loud arrival at the front door announced the arrival of Grant, the cockerel. His friends cheered, high-fived and hugged him as he made his way about the party greeting everyone. He really did harbour all the charisma.

“Who the devil are you!?” he yelled in my face, once he was close enough to see me up close in the crowd. He was a formidable character, tall, loud and drunk as a skunk. 

“I’m Jess. And you are?” I asked. 

“Absolutely smashed!” he responded loudly, before bounding off to find people he recognised. “Good luck with that one Sarah”, I thought to myself. Yeesh.

As the afternoon faded into the evening, I found myself feeling more and more comfortable in this new tribe. I was quickly accepted and I danced, drank and chatted with everyone I found. I slipped from a conversation about Schrodinger’s cat into being hoisted over someone’s shoulder on the dance floor in a matter of seconds. The mix of intellectual intercourse and ridiculousness was everything Sarah had promised. It wasn’t until the doorbell rang at 9pm that I remembered there was just one person left to meet. Jack Alcott had finally arrived.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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