By Nadia Kingsley
IT looked ideal for me. I mean ever since Gordon passed over I’ve been planning to get out more, correction – get out full stop. It’s been hard, I’m the first to admit it. I miss nodding at the other shit-su owners in the park, exchanging a few words over the dog poop bin, and as I said to Mavis as she ran my Kellogg’s Corn Flakes across that beepety-beep machine down the Co-Op, “Mavis” – I said, “I’ve got to get out more”, and she nodded her head vigorously and said she had never looked back since she’d joined her Zumba class – more friends than hot dinners, is how she put it. Mind, Mavis is a bit on the scrawny side so that’s not saying much.
“Get a hobby!” She called out to me as I carried my basket to the ‘other’ counter – can’t go without my fags can I? I didn’t reply. I just pretended she wasn’t talking to me – I mean I told her in confidence about how I was feeling. She might as well have used the tannoy.
And I’ve already got one haven’t I? A hobby or as ex-number-three liked to call it – my ‘obsession’ … Here’s a piece of advice – never, I mean NEVER ask a person of passion to choose between their life purpose and you. So now we’ll go separate ways I said to him as I closed the door on him, but he didn’t get the reference. On the up side – I had no idea how much room would free up once all his rubbish was out. Though it gets harder and harder to find pristine memorabilia. And some people are just after the money, money money– rather than looking for a good home, as they should.
Of course, I get the fan club’s magazine each month still. I was one of the first who signed up – 30 years back. 1986 – when everyone thought the worldwide phenomenon was over. I’ve been to all their weekends – even though it’s in the Netherlands. And I’ve been to Stockholm every year since the museum opened in 2013. I mostly hang around the phone when I go, with my fingers firmly crossed, and I always eat a lot of raw garlic the day before so that no one dares come near me – works a treat.
“Only four people in the entire world have the number for our special telephone. So be sure to answer if it rings!,” says their sign. I always hope it will be Frida – don’t tell anyone I said that. I’d ask her what was it like to be married to a prince, but mainly I want to tell her how much it hurt when I heard about her daughter, and offer my guest room for when she wants a change from Switzerland, that kind of thing.
It’s funny how things come together isn’t it? I bought the outfit first.
“Have Knowing me, Knowing you all-in one replica outfit, will travel” is what I always say – or have done since I saw it for the bargain price of twenty four pounds sixty four pence (free postage) on eBay. Looked wonderful in the picture – that vivid shiny blue that matched Agnetha’s eye shadow so perfectly she almost became my favourite, those three flounces in the trouser legs – tight arms to the elbows and then the gaping sleeves. I must say it wasn’t quite what I’d hoped when it arrived, a little snug, and the wig and microphone in the photo were distinctly visible in their absence. What I wouldn’t give for the real costume, but hey-ho that’s not likely to happen anytime soon – but a costume from one of the songs from their iconic fourth album… I kept it of course, though gave them a three star review.
So it was obvious wasn’t it? When I saw the speed-dating ad in the UK smalls of the fanzine, that that was my way in – to getting out more. And I don’t need to worry about what I’ll say – it’s all there in their lyrics: if the guy turns out to be a teacher I’ll throw my head back coquettishly and ask will everybody scream if I kiss you? Or if I don’t like a guy I can let him down gently with a Breaking up is never easy, I know. But I have to go which should lighten the mood a bit. Ooh. And if I really like the look of him, and they pick up on the Arrival connection in my conversation then I will drop my head and look through my fringe, Diana style: “Well I’m not quite 17” I’ll simper, “ but perhaps we could feel the beat from the tambourine on a Friday night when the lights are low”… Yes. That’ll have the desired effect. Or even “Don’t you realise I may be an angel in disguise. That’s me!” if he’s a little dense.
I know, I know the pub quiz nights they ran turned into a disaster. I still think I’d win if I ever took them to court. I mean banning me for their own ineptitude at attracting in participants and blaming me for the decline in numbers just because I know more about Abba than them all put together. That’s the crime! But speed dating! And in my costume… What ever could go wrong?
A week later…
Well. Let me paint the scene. I uncharacteristically arrived a little late. They really should make public ladies cubicles more roomy – you should have seen me – all tits and elbows, one foot perched on the toilet seat. The event was at Fernandez Grillhouse of course, but I had no idea they had a private function room till then. I arrived a little nervous.
But there was this lovely young man at the door – he was so fit looking, if you know what I mean. Nice finger nails too. And he made me feel right at home as soon as he saw me – shrieked in fact, that’s the god honest truth – shrieked, put his hands up – as if he was surrendering and – oh, I’ll never forget what he said –“You look divine darling!” Those were his words and that’s exactly how he said it – really emphasising the word divine, and he whipped out his phone and insisted on a photo of us both there and then! He then took me by the arm, a real gentleman and took me to this room at the back – and oh! Imagine my delight when all I could see were men in there! I mean, that had been a worry. That the night would be top-heavy with women. Well! The attention I received! Oh. The evening went by in a whirl. I was a hit. There’s no doubt about that.
And I have a date!…with the whole dang lot of them! Oh, I meant to hold that back a little longer, but I’m just so excited – we are off to a Karaoke bar they all seem to know called Tiger. Next Friday! And they’ve absolutely insisted I wear my costume. They all gathered round me and asked. And the best news? They all seem to own a toy dog! In fact Quentin’s shit-su is about to have puppies… I know it’s early days but I really feel I have found a family – men who are gentle and funny, and aren’t all over me, even though they are really touchy feely; they’re not, if you know what I mean? How rare is that? Dum Dum Diddle. They asked me to sing Dancing Queen when it’s my turn. Well. How can I not? I am having the time of my life. What luck!
© Nadia Kingsley 2016