SWEET FANNY ADAMS
Fanny Adams. Brit. informal. Noun (also sweet Fanny Adams) nothing at all
(Origin: early 20th cent.: sometimes understood as a euphemism for fuck
Granted, it could have been an airport, say, or any other point of
departure for that matter, not necessarily a railway station. Then again, I
would not want you to go thinking that his choice had been totally
arbitrary, although he was, admittedly, no stranger to acts of random
behavior. It did not have to be an overcrowded railway station, but
it sort of made sense somehow.
It's like this: your train is due to leave any minute now. You look
up from your book or paper if you are reading, that is but I think we
can safely assume that you, mon semblable, mon frère, are reading at
least one or the other, possibly even both, one after the other, or, better
still, simultaneously. Now is when it happens. For a few split nanoseconds,
another train pulling into the station tricks you into believing that
your train is pulling out.
Adam Horton 33, Caucasian, 5'6", underendowed, thinning on top
viewed this sensation as a perfect metaphor of his stumbling through life
like a sleepwalker on a treadmill, a pet hamster on a wheel, or a commuter
on the Circle Line. Hence the choice of a railway station over any other
leaving place. But which one? Paris offered un embarras de choix.
After a great deal of procrastination, he plumped for Gare du Nord
which houses the Eurostar terminal. Adam's grasp of French had greatly
improved over the past twelve months, but he was looking for a lady who
spoke the mother tongue. Besides, the word "terminal" had a certain ring to
it, the finality of a full stop.
The air hung heavy with Chaucerian expletives; dropped aitches were
strewn about his feet. Here and there, young men sporting crew cuts were
reading redtops from back to front. In the distance, a posse of senior
citizens was doing the hokey-cokey. If I should die, Adam muttered, think
only this of me: that there's some corner of a foreign railway station that
is forever In-ger-land. And there she was.
Sweet Fanny Adams.
Sweet Fanny Adams and no mistake.
Although he had never actually seen her before, he recognized her at
once, and once he had recognized her, he realized he would never see her
again. After all, not being there was what she was all about; it was the
essence of her being, her being Fanny Adams and all that.
As he walked towards the bench where she was sitting pretty, Adam
missed her already. Missed her bad.
"How do you do?"
"How do I do what?" The imperfect stranger looked up from her
slim, calf-bound volume and flashed him a baking-soda smile, all cocky like.
Their eyes met, pairing off at first sight. The earth moved,
orbiting at half a kilometer per second around her celestial globes a
couple of scalloped cupfuls with peek-a-boo trimmings in what can only be
described as a new Copernican revolution. For the first time since Mrs.
Horton's belabored parturition, when he was forcibly sprung off into the
world, Adam did not feel at the wrong place at the wrong time: he was back
in the bountiful bosom of Mummy Nature. As if to celebrate this return to
the much-maligned Ptolemaic system, a gaggle of gurgling putti glided
overhead to the strains of syrupy muzak and departing trains.
"Adam," said Adam, extending his right arm.
"Margarita," said Margarita, giving it a hearty shake.
Still reeling from that initial, blinding smile, let alone the
handshake, he struggled to regain his composure. "Have you read The
Leaning Tower of Pizzas by N.E. Tchans?"
"Is that the one which ends with an epic battle between gangs of
pre-pubescent herberts bouncing around on orange space-hoppers?"
"No, but I read a review at the time."
"Well, it's all about this Mr. Soft Scoop geezer, right, who comes
from Italy and settles down in South London where he falls in love with a
girl called Margarita." She was fiddling with her umbrella, a faraway look
on her face. "Like you, like."
"Oh, I see, yes. Sorry, I was miles away."
"I know: that's the attraction," he sighed sotto voce, before
getting a grip on himself. "Anyway, you should check it out some time if
you're into lolloping lollipop ladies, lesbians from Lisbon, the romance of
ice-cream vans, that kind of thing."
"Sounds right up my street."
"I see it as a contemporary footnote to Dante."
"Talking of contemporary feet, mine are killing me."
"Dying on our footnotes are we? One footnote in the grave, eh? How
long have you got left?"
"Long enough to grab a bite to eat or so says my chiropodist."
"There's an Italian just round the corner that might tickle your
"Sounds great. I feel like a pizza."
"I'm not surprised, love, with a name like that."
Adam caught a fleeting glimpse of the dark, gaping twilight zone
between Margarita's parting thighs as she uncrossed her legs to get up. That
topsy-turvy Bermuda Triangle twixt skirt and stocking exerted a
gravitational pull of such magnitude that he was sucked in, there and then,
never to re-emerge. He picked up her bulky suitcase, l'air de rien,
but in his mind's X-ray eye he could see her neatly-packed unmentionables.
He was big on smalls was old Adam Horton.
"It's a burden I feel I've been carrying all my life." He turned to
face her, fair and square. "This may sound potty, but you are the hollowness
inside. At last, I have found my sense of loss."
"I'm flattered," she said in Estuarine undertones, blushing a
little. Her dimpled cheeks resembled two squashed cherry tomatoes, only
bigger. "I always like to be of assistance to strangers."
"After you," said Adam, bowing theatrically and showing the way with
her suitcase like a truncheon-toting gendarme stopping the traffic
for pedestrians. He could not help noticing the shaft of light that fell on
Margarita's top bottom proof positive that the sun shone out of her
behind before leaving the station, hot on her high heels.
They repaired to a small, dingy restaurant nearby (which Margarita
praised on account of its "atmosphere") where Adam poured out his heart and
a couple of cheap, albeit potent, bottles of plonk. Whining and dining,
in medias res.
"We are all post-Denis de Rougemont."
"Couldn't agwee maw," said Marwgawita, making a mental note never
again to shpeak wiv her mouf full. Frankly, she did not have a clue what he
was going on about.
"We are the first generation to know full well that love doesn't
last, and yet we cling to the ideal like shit to a blanket."
She turned up her already retroussé nose. How more
retroussé can it get? he wondered.
"Maybe it's just me. The whole thing's very Oedipal, I know." Adam
cringed at his attempt to laugh it off.
"I could spank you, free of charge, if you think that might help."
"I'd rather not if it's all the same with you," he replied rather
primly, his flushed face a slapped-arse crimson, "but thanks for the offer.
Might even take you up on it some other time. Except . . .," Adam paused for
effect, ". . . there won't be another time." He sighed, staring into his
bowlful of miniature bow-ties, topped up their glasses and cleared his
throat. "Love stories are like fairy tales . . ."
"Aren't they just," she interrupted, a trifle too eager.
". . . in that we know the end from the start. Only it's not and
they lived happily ever after, is it ?"
Tears welled up in her belladonna eyes.
"You know, someone should write a different kind of love story for
the new millennium. It would start with the foregone conclusion and work its
way back towards the unknown: how it all started in the first place."
"Will you write this new-fangled love story?"
"I'm writing the first pages even as we speak with your
assistance, of course."
"I like to be of assistance." She smiled a wet smile. "So that¹s it,
"Yes, in our beginning is our end."
Margarita seemed in a hell of a hurry all of a sudden, even her nose
was running. Where is it running to? he wondered. To by-corners Byzantine,
I'll be bound, and wondrous Wherevers, to the end of the earth, at the end
of its tether. Then he shrugged to himself and at it all because it
did not really matter any more, it really did not. Whatever: yeah, right.
It was raining when Margarita stepped out of the restaurant. Adam
watched her amber umbrella disappear from view, a Belisha beacon of hope on
a dimmer switch. He scribbled a few words on the paper tablecloth.
D'elle, il ne reste que ces tagliatelles.