Mavis Belfrage

Mavis Belfrage by Alasdair Gray Read Free Book Online

Book: Mavis Belfrage by Alasdair Gray Read Free Book Online
Authors: Alasdair Gray
fun together.”
    â€œI’m bad at fun.”
    â€œWell I’m going to teach you to be good at it. We’re going to have a party.”
    â€œWhat a great idea!” shouted Bill. She said, “Don’t fool yourself Bill Belfrage. This party will only start when
you
are tucked up in bed.”
    â€œA party,” said Colin, pondering.
    â€œYes. You must have friends, Colin.”
    â€œI have friendly acquaintances – colleagues, mostly.”
    â€œInvite them and we’ll make them drunk on doped whisky. Dull people can be quite entertaining when they’re drunk.”
    â€œA very bad idea.”
    â€œI was
joking
Colin! But I know how to make an innocent-tasting punch with a kick like a mule. Andwhat about your father?” she asked, setting plates before them. “I bet Gordon knows how to enjoy a party. And there’s Clive – Clive Evans, you know.”
    She sat facing him. He stared at her. She nodded back and said, “He’s great fun – socially I mean. You’ll like him.”
    â€œYou’ll
let me come to the party Colin? Please Colin?” Bill pleaded.
    â€œNo!” snapped Colin. He laid down the cutlery and shut his eyes feeling too tired to think or speak. He heard Bill mutter, “I had
almost
decided to regard you as a friend, but you act like a friendly sea-lion with unexpectedly vicious traits.”
    He heard Mavis say, “It’s strange that you and I have never been to a party together, Colin. I used to go to so many.”
    He felt her hand touch his, despised himself for the comfort this gave yet relaxed for a quarter minute into something like sleep then wakened and quickly breakfasted because he must wash and dress for work. As he ate she suggested it should be a dinner party for ten – she could easily make a meal for ten – all Colin need do was ask his father and any six others he liked one Saturday evening a fortnight hence. That would give her plenty of time to prepare. Colin neither objected nor agreed to these suggestions but when he left the table she obviously thought the matter settled.
14
    A week passed before Colin asked his father and some other people to the party. Mavis no longer went out at night. Perhaps she met Evans during the day. Since Evans had a job this could only be during his lunch hour, so the nature of her affair had changed and Colin hoped it was maybe dying of natural causes. The party would show colleagues that he and Mavis were living as husband and wife. The Welshman would see this too so when Evans left the party with the other guests his affair with Mavis could decently end. Colin considered suggesting this to Mavis but decided against making a selfish remark while she worked so hard to make him happy. As the party neared she grew more and more domestic, cleaning and tidying the house as his father had done, beautifying it with flowers and candles as his mother had never done. The Kerr candlesticks had been for decoration only but Mavis used them to light the dining-table which had once supported Glonda. Each night she placed there a different, surprisingly tasty meal. Colin showed appreciation by doubling her housekeeping allowance.
    â€œI suppose I deserve it,” she said, kissing him. He decided he need fear nothing from Evans and persuaded Mavis to let Bill stay up for the meal if he went to bed immediately after.
    On Saturday afternoon Colin drove into town with a shopping list written by Mavis for more wines and spirits than he thought necessary. She had made himpromise not to come home before five because that would spoil a surprise she was preparing. He guessed the surprise would be something she wore so decided to surprise her back. Visiting a gentleman’s outfitter he changed his dark pullover and knitted tie for a red waistcoat and scarlet silk cravat. When he entered the living-room she laughed and said, “You peacock, you’ve outdone

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