It’s Saturday afternoon. Mr Lush, in flannel trousers, a brown three-button houndstooth jacket, and a silk neckerchief, is on the hunt for a nice café in Notting Hill. He is accompanied by Olivier and the two zebraffes Kiki and Kuku (whom he can’t help but notice are getting bigger by the day). The whole crew is, as is their wont on Saturdays, on their pogo sticks.
After a prolonged stay at the meerkat hospital, Lush is in good health again. The only proof of his heroism is the impressive scars that Paul & Maul’s tiger claws left on his chest. He wears these battle scars proudly. In fact, during his convalescence, he would spend almost absurdly long periods imagining all of his sexual partners’ reactions to hearing how he had gotten his scars. While this might seem like a mere trifle, it helped Lush to heal his bruised pride as well as his body. The scars make him feel important and manly. While they do help, ultimately, the biggest boost to his recovery is the fact that all of his animal friends pitched in to have a new dinner jacket commissioned from his hunchbacked tailor.
The pogo sticks make the arduous task of negotiating the Saturday traffic on the Portobello Road a cinch. On their first time out, Lush was afraid that this would draw the ire of their fellow pedestrians (he had flashbacks to his ‘friends’ shoving sticks between the spokes of his bicycle at Eton). However, this turned out to not be the case.
Lush is awakened from his reveries by Olivier’s call of “take a right at the turquoise house. First round to whomever arrives last”. Lush moans as Kiki and Kuku put their game faces on. “Always the same childish nonsense”, tuts Lush, picking up speed. Much to Lush’s surprise, he’s neck-and-neck with Olivier. In fact, it might have been a photo finish if not for the ocelot’s ingenuity in tripping Lush at the finish line. “You bloody ocelot!” says Lush from the floor. “Lush, first round is on you, as ever”. Two cappuccinos, two decaffeinated coffees, and the dailies are brought to the table. Kiki and Kuku read the Daily Mail; Olivier sticks to the Guardian; Lush pretends to read the Financial Times, but has a copy of the Sun hidden inside.
Lush is still chuckling to himself about yet another article blaming foreigners for all of his troubles, when a red bus across the street draws his attention. Much to his consternation, his wife descends. The pages of his newspaper go flying (revealing his ruse), as he grabs his cup and downs his coffee in one, almost knocking over the table in the process. Olivier and the zebraffes, startled, follow Lush’s gaze to see what has caused this sudden explosion of energy. By the time they realise what is up, Lush is already out the door and halfway across the street, about to be run over by a taxi. The cabby’s expletives make Lush’s wife (and everyone else in a six-mile radius) turn around. He apologises briefly. Looking down in an exaggerated show of shame, Lush notices that, in all of the commotion, he forgot to button his jacket. Lush quickly hides his shame, takes a deep breath, and steps towards his wife. At this point, he is, as always, flustered. He is quite sure that he can actually hear the sound of the ocelot’s paws covering its face.
“Uhm… Hello,” Lush mumbles. Unfortunately, this is already further than he has planned this conversation out.
“Hi,” replies Wifey. She, though surprised, manages to maintain her cool façade. Not much has changed since their last meeting, although her jewellery has gotten much more expensive and her skin is now several shades more tanned. She wears a mid-blue two-piece single-breasted pinstripe suit with peak lapels (probably Wardton Edsex) and a cream roll neck. Her heels (Féline) are almost completely covered by the wide-legged trousers. She has finished off her outfit with a Cartier watch and a large orange printed silk scarf by Herpès.
“Do you remember who I am?”, begins Lush, before pretending he had never said that and starting over. “You look so good…”, he blurts out. At this point, his hands, over which he has lost all control, jut out in front of him at a 90° angle.
“Yes, I… No one has heard from you in a long time. We (all of our friends, in fact) travel a lot”, replies Wifey, bemused.
“I do things. I have friends.” At this point, Lush is completely off the rails.
“New friends? Do tell. Actually, now that I think of it, I don’t actually care”, she laughs “about you or your friends.” She pretends to look at her watch. “I have to go now. I need to get to the antiques market to buy something for Albert, my husband, who I married and love.” Lush’s eye twitches at the mention of her new husband. She only said it to hurt him. It isn’t so much the fact that she has a new husband as her intention to hurt him and the disdain with which she treats him that cuts.
“So, you have a nice day now!”, she says as she turns, throwing her scarf around her neck dramatically. Almost immediately, she stumbles and drops a hairpin. However, nothing in the world will make her turn around at this point.
Lush, with his characteristic look of bewilderment, stares after her for a bit. He looks across the street at his friends. They look back, smile, and shrug their shoulders. Lush wipes away a tear he hopes no one can see and begins to laugh. He turns around one last time. ‘There goes the life I always hated”. He skips back across the street shrugging his shoulders at the only true friends he’s ever had. MM/DC