The Three Halves of Martyn Manning
If you were to take out an old-fashioned map of the counties of England and lay it out on the table in front of you, and if you then studied Buckinghamshire, you may just conclude that the county is shaped a little like a large bullfrog facing west towards Oxfordshire. If indeed you did reach this conclusion, and if you then leaned closer to study the frog’s lips, there, on the very western edge of the county, you would find the tiny village of Long Crendon. The village is a pretty place of thatch and gable, and its olde worlde High Street is used often in the filming of period dramas. Before the M40 was built Long Crendon was remote and isolated and its people spoke with a strong Bucks burr. It’s still very rural now, but the motorway makes it a perfect weekend retreat for wealthy Londoners who flood in on Friday nights to patronize the locals and block the pub car parks with their Jags and Volvos.
During the week the village is a quiet place, but this makes it perfect for another type of wealthy Londoner. There are five pubs in Long Crendon. The Eight Bells and The Sun sell beer and little else. The Chandos is more up-market serving bistro-style food, while The Churchill does a nice line in speciality sausages. But The Angel is not really a pub at all. It still has its pub sign hanging outside, but if you go inside you’ll find an excellent French restaurant serving the finest quality food and wine. At The Angel you’d be lucky to get away with dinner for less than a hundred quid a head. It also has cosy and luxurious bedrooms at a hundred and fifty quid a night, and the staff are very discreet. Indeed, the manager at The Angel often quips that three-quarters of his business is what he calls his ‘assignation’ trade.
One such couple were Janet and Tom. Early in her career someone had said to Janet that in order to succeed as a woman in business she didn’t have to sleep with all the right men, she just had to make them think that she might. Janet however had never been one for half measures. Now at the age of thirty-five, through the sparing yet studious application of both her undoubted talent and her highly desirable pelvis, she had reached the dizzy heights of European Marketing Vice-President for the US investment bank, Stein Morgan. But she didn’t see why she should stop there. Tom was the chairman of a rival bank. At forty-three, Tom was even more successful, as well as a multi-millionaire and the youngest chairman his bank had ever had. With his easy New England charm and perfectly cut Saville Row suit Janet almost found him attractive. She had spent a great deal of time cultivating Tom over the past three months, and for much of that time neither of them had been wearing clothes. Tonight however Janet wanted her payback. And she was playing for high stakes.
They’d been late entering the restaurant and couple by couple the other diners had drifted off from the low beams and warm firelight into the frosty February night. Now as they lingered over liquors there was just the two of them. Or more precisely there was just the two of them and Michel. Michel had seen many stunning women in his thirty years of waiting at tables in exclusive restaurants, but even he had to admit that tonight Janet looked devastating. She was wearing her highly prized little black Paolo Rembak with simple pearls, perfectly complimenting her dark brown hair and smooth caramel skin. Even the experienced Michel struggled to be neither intimidated by her beauty nor jealous of Tom. Over the years Michel had developed the skilled waiter’s gift of being almost invisible to his customers. He had used his gift to observe Janet and Tom throughout their evening and to eavesdrop on their conversation. He’d noted how irresistible Janet looked, her eyes glittering as they reflected the solid silver coffee pot in the warm but fading firelight. He’d noted how witty and attentive Janet had been all evening and how charmingly she’d responded to Tom’s every word. Now Michel was sure that Janet was leading up to something big and he was anxious to hear the denouement. He listened intently as Janet closed her sales pitch.
‘So come on Tom, that’s the deal. I get the New York job with the corporate penthouse and you get unlimited fucks, as many as you want whenever you want, no strings and no commitments. Come on, you know I can do the job, we’ve got a win-win situation here.’ The direct mid-Atlantic style sat uncomfortably with the middle-class home counties accent.
Tom paused for a moment, then took a sip of his Chateau de Relonais before replying, his voice low, calm and relaxed.
‘You always did make a good pitch Janet, I swear you should’ve been in Sales. But don’t forget my rule. You know I’m know I’m never unfaithful to my wife when she’s on the same continent.’
‘Oh fuck your pathetic rule’ snorted Janet. ‘It didn’t stop you in Chicago, it didn’t stop you in Illinois, or Seattle.’
Tom never accepted a proposal on first hearing, not always because he hadn’t made up his mind or because he wanted to sleep on it, but often simply on principal, as a negotiating technique. So he didn’t answer Janet there and then, but he had already come to his decision.
The only thing wrong with the Angel’s bedrooms is that they’re not soundproof. As Michel closed down the dining-room for the night he listened as giggles and smans turned to moans and gasps on creaky bedsprings. As he locked up restaurant he heard a muffled shriek and noticed he had a slight hard-on. It was the sort of semi-erection which would easily maintain itself by the friction of his penis on his underclothes as he walked home. It was only a short walk to his house in the village and he hoped his wife would still be awake when he got there.
As Tom lay snoring and satiated, Janet pondered the evening. Yes, it had gone well. There were only three flies left in her ointment. She’d deal with them tomorrow.