Tuesday, 9 March 2010

How To Dump Your Girlfriend

... is the title of a very funny book by Manchester-based writer/comic/poet/compere, Julian Daniel. Recently, I attended a promotional reading of this book in a LIBRARY.

(Libraries are a Good Thing as Broken Biro will confirm, not least because people who work in libraries provide me with a quip that I shall never grow tired of. )

Anyway, at the end of the reading, Julian asked the audience to share stories of dumping or of being dumped. I once pushed a boy (Peter Bird) off a wall and ran away but, as earlier that evening he had cracked a bullwhip in his bedroom causing his mother to come charging up the stairs and crashing through the door, I feel that was wholly justified - though hardly interesting enough to share with a literary audience. (No offence).

And then I remembered The History Teacher. A man so obsessed with sport that he locked himself in the bathroom on Saturdays in case I distracted him whilst he was writing down the football scores in his spiral-bound notebook.

The relationship wasn't going well - Leeds United was not on top form that season - but I didn't have the courage to end it. So I avoided him. I particularly avoided talking to him. For months.

I worked in a theatre box office. Not answering the phone in case it was The History Teacher was tricky ... but I managed it. I could rely on colleagues - "Could you get that, please?" - on customers who were queuing up to buy tickets - "I'll give you the concessionary rate if you'll answer that call for me" - or simply ignoring the ringing phone altogether. (Apologies if you tried and failed in 1987 to book a subscription ticket for Camille, Little Shop of Horrors, Season's Greetings, Noises Off and The Sea).

The only time it got really problematic was when customers took messages and I had to return calls.

"What does that say? Your handwriting's dreadful."
"Erm, C.O.C.U.P. I think ...?"

Mrs Cocup (long O) was most irate at my mispronunciation of her name and took her custom elsewhere.

Eventually, of course, The History Teacher did get hold of me. I let my guard down and answered the phone on a match day. Gently, ever-so-carefully, I broke it off. Surely he'd got the message by the long silence?

"I just assumed you were having trouble with your wisdom teeth," he said.


  1. In this house, we are NEVER at home to Mrs Cocup.

  2. I went out the daughter of a pub landlord once. We spent a dreamy evening together, I kissed her goodnight and got the bus home. No sooner had I stepped through the door, all light-hearted and planning our next date, she phoned to ask me if I would explain to her boyfriend that there was nothing going on between us. I could always take a hint.

  3. Martin, it's good to share these things.

    I'd like to think that somewhere, some day, The History Teacher will work through his wisdom teeth obsession, and Peter Bird his fear of walls ...

  4. 50 ways according to Paul Simon

  5. But only if you rhyme.

    What if you were dating someone called Ignatius? Or Calum? Or Gloria?

    Not so easy to leave THEM (according to Paul Simon). Easier, in fact, to push 'em off a wall.