because none of us is fucking up like we think we are, is what i'm trying to say

Darby and Joan: May 2012


Darby & Joan are the quintessential middle-aged British couple, characterised by knitwear, hours of scrabble, and a penchant for staying in on Saturday nights. Darby and Joan are, in fact, @calummcswiggan and me. 

Dear Darby.

Three weeks ago I was all, MY LIFE SUCKS! I NEED TO SEE YOU! And you were like, I KNOW! HOW DO WE MAKE THIS HAPPEN? And I was like, FUCK! RYANAIR HAS A RETURN FLIGHT TO EAST MIDLANDS FOR FIFTY EUROS! And you said, WHY ARE YOU EVEN STILL TALKING TO ME? BOOK IT!

So I did, and then I called Mama to tell her I was coming home, and she cried. I got so excited I couldn’t focus my eyes properly. You made reservations at our favourite French restaurant, basically the whole reason I wanted to come home anyway: the salted butter on that crusty baguette that they serve. We love that restaurant. When I told dad I’d be home after lunch because PUT ALL THE BUTTER IN MY MOUTH RIGHT NOW OKAY THANKS BYE he said, ‘Oh what, you’re going there for a change?’

Hey. We like what we like, don’t we? Fizzy Sainsbury’s water, and pic n’ mix from the Indian man on the corner, and the prix fixe menu at Bistrot Pierre. See also: Saturday Night Bollocks, Dominoes 2-4-1 pizza offer and making conversation with strangers.

My favourite bit was when you met me at the station, and as we hugged- the only time we would make physical contact, since we tend to avoid that in real life (but this was a special occasion, so that was ok)- and the old woman passing us said, ‘Now that’s a greeting! Young people just don’t hug enough, do they?’ She carried on walking and we said, CUPS.

I don’t even remember why we say CUPS when we don’t understand something. I just know that the only person who understands it when I say it is you, and I only do it when I am with you. I told you about my favourite student (‘They’re all your favourites,’ you said) who is five years old and the spitting image of Drew Barrymore in E.T. except dark-haired and spunkier.

Last week we played Pictionary on the smartboard, and her turn went over the allotted minute. She kept drawing and drawing, and nobody in the class could figure out what it was, and as she stood back and looked at it with pride, and still nobody understood it, she flung out her arms and pointed at what, to her, was the most obvious thing in the world. She said impatiently, GUYS. COME ON! IT’S A BANANA IN A HAT.

So then we spent all afternoon not understanding things and randomly saying IT’S A BANANA IN A HAT and I love how that now might be a new thing, because I have an idea. I think I want a banana in a hat tattooed on my left wrist. I’m totally serious. A sort of metaphor that how even though to us the answer is like, totally obvious, often other people just don’t understand. And when they don’t I’ll just shrug and say CUPS. And then, IT’S A BANANA IN HAT.

Total awesome plan, right?

Related thought: maybe I should get a tattoo of some cups?

Thank you for being so patient with me this weekend, too. I know I said we only had to walk through the shopping centre to get to the bureau de change- which you insisted on saying in a shit French accent- but by the time I said, ‘We’ll just pop into Topshop for like, A SECOND’ shopping fever had hit, and as I picked up t-shirt after t-shirt and said on repeat, ‘Do you hate me? Do you hate me because we’ve not hung out since January and now I am making you carry my shopping?’ you just said, CUPS. When I got to Mum and Dad’s Mama said, ‘Why have you spent all your money on 24 neon t-shirts? Why didn’t Calum stop you?’ and I said, BANANA. HAT.

Then we went for our French food and the woman apologized that the haddock risotto had no haddock in it, which was exciting, and you made me choose the wine and it stained your teeth a bit, and when I got cross that the next table ordered cappuccinos after their lunch you told me, CALM THE FUCK DOWN, LAURA. IN ITALY CAPPUCINO MIGHT ONLY BE DRUNK BEFORE 10 A.M. BUT YOUR’E NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE TOTO. THIS IS DERBY. AND IN DERBY WE DRINK MILKY COFFEE WHENEVER WE WANT. HAVE A WORD WITH YOURSELF YOU UPPETY BITCH.

It’s really hard for me not to be pretentious sometimes, and I love that you know how to keep that in check. Ta.

We talked about moving to London together- and not even in 2014 like we said originally, but like, soon- and how we should set up an online magazine together. Something for the gals and the gays, for the fags and their hags. The we said we’d live together in a tiny little studio and just MAKE SHIT all day long, but by the time pudding came we let the feeling pass because neither of us like people very much and living together would probably make us hate each one another so you know. Maybe see you in London. Maybe not. But probably. Hopefully. Let me know how it works out for you.

Forever you hat-wearing banana, oh cuppy-one.

Joan x
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