They found a patisserie on Sint Antoniesbreestraat that Gertrude fell in love with immediately. It was uncluttered, furnished with old pine furniture and well lit by antique brass chandeliers niftily converted to electric. The walls housed large, gold-framed mirrors and were decorated in dark reds and greens, with a fleur-de-lys picked out in gold leaf here and there. Where the aging mahogany countertop, piled high with pastries, abutted the wall, it was lined with antique Delft tiles, adding a further splash of style to the old-world feel. The woodblock floor was well worn and welcoming to the visitor, as was the aroma of good coffee hanging in the air.
Enhancing the aftermath experience…
…Bertram asked, “Did I ever write and tell you of my colleague and chum Toby’s experience regarding love making and more particularly, ahem… enhancing the aftermath experience?”
“No sweetie, I don’t recollect such a story,” came Gertrude’s answer.
The next morning arrived some time before Bertram awoke and was there, peeping through the curtains, waiting for him to wake up and shake a leg. He opened one eye then the other, thinking, ‘Hang on a moment, where is Teddy-Odd-Ears? This isn’t my room…’ It was a couple of seconds later that he remembered he was in Amsterdam and that last evening he’d had the time of his life. So, if he was not hallucinating, he deduced that Gertrude would be lying in bed next to him and Teddy-Odd-Ears would be sat on his suitcase. He wasn’t, and they were!
Gertrude was by now, starting to realize her error but couldn’t help herself observing, “Surely Bertie, you don’t really have the build for a pole-vaulter and never did, from what I can remember.”
“But I thought that Pavlov was a ballerina,” said Bertie, a little confused.
“I was thienking that he was a fruity meringue,” offered Grietja.
“Well maybe he was, but he had this dog and it kept having things taken away from it, if you catch my drift. Now, if Bertie doesn’t want his nookie declared forfeit, he’ll jolly well sit down and be a good boy!”
Bertram smiled and gave Gertrude a hug, which turned into a kiss. It was a long, lingering kiss where tongues probed and palms wandered. They broke off after a while if only to draw breath. He turned around and leaned on the railing to take in the view up and down the canal. There was a slight scuffle behind him but he thought nothing of it, as he was certain that no one had followed them down the stone steps.
“Bertie dear, I’m very hungry,” she said.
“That’s the munchies kicking in,” said Bertram. “If you like we could go back to the falafel bar or I noticed a valamse fritte takeaway just down the way. We could call in there and get some chips (fries) with salad cream on them. I know that I could do with another drink of fizzy pop or something. My throat is as dry as a sand lizard’s socks.”
“You used to say that when we went out together!” said Gertrude. “It was always your excuse to get into the nearest pub. What I want to know is, how you know just how dry a sand lizard’s socks are?”
“Ah, well, that is down to me knowing the ancient lore of the Aboriginal bush men. I learned that from that outdoor survival chappie, Ray Mears, in person… while he was on the telly.”
Gertrude laughed. “That chubby little bugger Ray Mears was just a child when we were together, you blighter! What’s more, if he lives on roots and grubs like he says he does, why is he so rotund?”
“Ah yes…. Of course… Here we get to the nub of the matter,” giggled Bertram. “Did you know that whenever he sets up camp in the wilds, if you turn the camera around one hundred and eighty degrees, it will be pointing straight at a McDonalds? It’s a little known fact…”
Gertrude ordered two falafels in pitta bread with salad from the self-service salad bar, along with a couple of 7Ups. Bertram paid the guy serving behind the bar and filled his falafelled pitta with pickled cucumbers, hummus and chillies before sitting down and realising that he might have made a mistake and a great big one to boot. If he planned to do any smooching later that night, pickles and chillies were a good way of putting a stop to it. The chillies alone could turn oral sex into aural sex, as pleading for it would be as near to getting it as Bertram could aspire. As it turned out, he need not have worried as Gertrude had filled her pitta with pickled garlic, chillies and salsa. She smiled knowingly when she saw Bertram glance at her snack, then at his own, and finally, look relieved.
“I erm… see that our tastes have not changed since we were together. I thought that I’d dropped a right royal bloomer then,” said Bertram.
“No, it’s okay with me if you eat chillies, Bertie. Just make sure that you use your toothbrush before you do anything personal for me again.”
Bertram, shocked by her forthrightness, spluttered some pickled cucumber onto the jacket of a Frenchman sitting near him but thought better of drawing attention to it and continued to munch his pitta. After all, it was only a Frenchman and as the jacket was green in colour, the mess was barely noticeable from more than twenty yards away.
Bertram dressed, selecting his best sleeveless cardigan, the Fair Isle one with the real leather buttons. On previous wearings it had made women fall at his feet! Sadly, what Bertram hadn’t noticed was that the women were all turning away from him with a look of horror on their faces as they fell.
He knew that the apartment he’d borrowed for the weekend was only a half hour’s walk away and that whether he took a taxi or walked, he was going to need a shower and a change of clothes before he met her, his ex-girlfriend and the reason for this trip. He had not seen her for twenty five years and his stomach churned with butterflies at the thought of meeting up again.
“What is going to happen? Am I wasting my time? Does she regret taking the teaching job in Istanbul all those years back? Would she forgive me the unfortunate incident over the unwrapped Oxo® Cubes I’d left, rather pathetically, in her sponge bag?” Apparently Turkish Customs and Excise had detained her for several hours when they found them. “Will we get on after this enforced break? Will she want my body? What on earth will she do with it? And why am I asking myself daft questions out loud in public like this?”