Picture the summer of 1992. Linford Christie was showing us his packed lunch in Barcelona, "Please Don't Go" was number 1 in the chart, and I was managing an amusement arcade on Southend (pronounced "Saaaaaaaaaf-end") seafront.
It was in my opinion my summer of love and the constant flow of holiday-makers meant that the occasional holiday romance for all employees of the seafront was not unheard of. In fact, for the bulk of the male population working there it was a perk. Day in day out, I could be found there. From about 9 in the morning, until normally about midnight in fact. The arcade didn't have a lot to do. The first 2 or 3 hours would be spent cleaning the place from top to bottom. Maybe a big job was required like fixing a machine, or cleaning a less likely place like the machine reels or the backs of video game glasses.
The point was I sat around a lot. My favourite seat was in an old Outrun or Afterburner, at the front of the arcade, where I could laze, and watch the world (and little girlies) walk by.
I would normally have 2 nights off a week. One would be a *half* day, finishing at 6, and conveniently this would also be the day I got paid, so I would stroll down to the head office, pick up the pay packet, and meet my best mate for a night out. This one particular hot evening, and we decided we would try out the new Quasar laser centre that had just opened up, up the road from my arcade. 15 minutes of running around, shooting some poor 12 year old kid until he started crying and gibbering something about not wanting to play anymore, and we left. Hot, Sweaty, hungry and now in dire need of a pint of anything cool and tasty, we headed for a restaurant we'd never tried before on Southend High Street called Tomassi's. We were greeted by a young girl, who seemed to take a shine to my mate (they always did, lucky sod that he was) and she was our waitress. At the end of the meal, I asked her if she was coming for a drink, and she said she would be finishing in about an hour, so we waited for her in my local hostelry called Hickory's just around the corner. To make a long story short (a bit late, I know!), she obviously wanted my mate to play a game of hide the sausage with her. The problem is my mate was frigid, and wouldn't go anywhere without me when she wanted to see him. He met her once without my aid, and was apparently so cold he didn't get anywhere. The next time he arranged a date, he bottled it altogether and stood her up.
Anyway, some 2 weeks later, and I get the chance to take out a delightful girl called Tracey Brown (How original for Essex huh?) but only on the condition she can bring her best mate Kelly. Seeing as my mate had had no luck before, I dragged him along to keep to make it a happy foursome. We all met up after work in a seafront pub, and it was apparent they had been there all afternoon. Well off we went for dinner, and in a less then sober state we decide "let's go to Tomassi's"
This really wasn't a good idea, but I thought "Hell it could be fun, and whats the worst that could happen?"
The worst did happen. We were served by Lisa. The poor cow didn't know how to react to these very drunk bimbos, and me and Andy were just waiting for the world to open up and swallow us whole. We had an *interesting* meal, what with the girls screaming they wanted more alcohol, beckoning poor Lisa over and then sending her away again without asking for anything. All in all, genuinely bad behaviour. If I wasn't so desperate, I would have walked out. Eventually we left and ended back at the seafront, where the now throughly alcohol soaked lasses went off with their mates, and we didn't see them for the rest of the night. Andy and I went home, dejected, lonely, and slightly worried about the repercussions of the evening.
They came in an interesting way. Andy got a phone call from Lisa. Something along the lines of,
"Hi Andy. I miss you. Can you let me buy you dinner."
How could he refuse? A date and time was arranged, and he appeared to tell me he had a date with Lisa. He seemed quite excited, right up until I reminded him of our last meeting with her. He was still optimistic she would forgive him, and from the tone in his voice he was genuinely thinking he might actually get to get to see her personal train set, including the Brazilian express to heaven.
He left to meet her, only to reappear an hour later.
"I've been stood up," he cried.
We never saw her again.