It was in a pub in Keighley, Yorkshire, we were having a libation while we were waiting for the departure time for the vintage steam train that was to take us to Haworth, the Bronte family village. It was the summer of 1980.
It was late morning and the lunch crowd hadn’t yet arrived. A couple of other tables were occupied, but one in particular caught my attention. It was occupied by an early middle-age couple of around the same vintage as my then wife and me. He was relatively nondescript, but she wasn’t. She caught my eye. She caught my I so much that I am still able to write this so many years later.
Some enchanted evening. You may see a stranger. You may see a stranger across a crowded room …
It wasn’t a crowded room is that the similarity was that as she caught my eye it was obvious that I had caught hers. She looked at me unwaveringly. She seemed to be, as the cliche goes, ‘making eyes’ at me. Maybe it was my imagination. And yet, every time I looked in her direction, there she was and looking back.
I found myself, in my fantasy revery thinking I wanted her. I wanted her so much that I simply knew that if we were to physically encounter each other we would make love; rapturous love with little to-do or preamble. Her look told me that. So as not to be obvious I didn’t stare at her unwaveringly – I mean, I was with somebody. Yet, whenever I glanced over there were those eyes, taking me in. There seemed to be little conversation between her and her table partner and I thought, what is wrong with him? He gets to go home and have her. I want to go home and have her, and have her have me.
It was across a crowded room but it was one of those life incidents with meaning. It reminds me of a belief held by a friend that suggested to him that if one was to see an erstwhile stranger three time in succession that stranger would come to have meaning in one’s life. I tend to believe that, though I have no proof.
And I have never seen the Keighley pub woman since, but she is always there.