The couple seated at the table in a G-block restaurant, Gutenberg’s, were Heiress and Geezer who had only met a day earlier at a party for words with double letters. Such parties were indicative of the new jaunty mood around Wordsdrow. Heiress, infused by this mood, found her attention drawn to a group of men whose raucous laughter and banter she would normally ignore.
She nudged her friend, Genteel, and nodded towards a tall man who regaled the group with a story accompanied by an intricate succession of hand gestures.
‘He’s awfully handsome, don’t you think?’
Genteel smiled and shook her head. ‘Not my type, Heiress…and not yours either, I wouldn’t have thought. They are making a racket.’
‘Oh, I don’t know. They just seem to be enjoying themselves.’ She turned to another of her circle. ‘Manners, would you care to join me in having a chat with those young men over there?’
Manners glanced across at the group: ‘I can’t see why not. It looks like they’re having quite the time.’
They sauntered across to the men and joined a conversation punctuated by frequent requests for clarification. Before Manners and Heiress rejoined their friends, Heiress asked Geezer whether he would like to join her for dinner on the following evening. Geezer, happy to accept the offer, was the recipient of backslapping and ribald comments when the two ladies departed.
‘You’re in there, mate,’ said Ruffian as he punched Geezer’s arm.
Geezer grinned. ‘Conversation might be tricky though…she’s a bit posh, innit? I’m not sure she understood everything I said.’
‘Or any of it, if you ask me,’ added Common. ‘She seemed puzzled by a lot of what we said. Maybe she has a thing about the riff-raff, as she’d probably call us. If you’re worried about keeping the conversation going, you should use that ATM app and translate whatever you’re going to say into Posh.’
‘Hey, that’s a good idea,’ said Geezer.
When Heiress and Manners returned to their friends, they were teased about their dalliance with the lower classes and Heiress’ scheduled date with Geezer. Heiress smiled serenely.
‘You must admit, though, that he is quite dashing although I’m not sure I understand what he’s referring to all the time. Still, it should be interesting, diverting.’
‘You should use that ATM device, Heiress,’ said Class. ‘My friends swear by it – quite literally in some cases: they’ve learned the most frightful words – when they’re dealing with repairmen or delivery boys.’
‘You know, that’s rather a good idea. I’ll do that.’
Over the course of the next day, both Geezer and Heiress used the ATM app to compile a stock of phrases which they thought would augment their dialogue. Heiress had suggested that they meet at the bar in Gutenberg’s. Geezer arrived first and keyed in Get us a table, guv, chop-chop into his ATM which translated into Posh as I have a reservation in the name of X. He waited a few minutes and when he saw Heiress approaching the bar, he waved to a waiter and said: ‘Excuse me, waiter. I have a reservation in the name of Mr. Geezer’.
Heiress greeted him with the expression which the Bloke in the Pub mode on her ATM returned when she’d typed in It’s a tad cold outside this evening.
‘Hello, Geezer. Bleedin’ brass monkeys out there, innit?’
Geezer, taken aback by this, mumbled a reply: ‘It is, rather. So, here we are. Can I get you a drink?’
‘Yes, please. I’ll have what you’re having…lager or whatever will do nicely.’
‘I’m more a gin and tonic man. Are you quite sure you’d prefer lager to anything else?’
‘Yeah. Oi, barman, bit of service over here, please.’
The barman served them and they took their drinks to a table. Geezer sipped his gin and tonic while Heiress took a long draught from her drink and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand.
‘Bloody hell, I needed that. Not a bad place this,’ she said, looking around the bar. ‘What’s the nosh like?’
‘Em, I don’t know. It’s not a place I’ve been to before.’ He paused and then added. ‘I just hope lobster thermidor is on the menu. That’s one of my favourites.’
Heiress looked puzzled. ‘Really? I think you can’t beat a good curry; the hotter the better.’
Now, Geezer looked puzzled: maybe this would be easier than he’d anticipated. They negotiated the next few minutes of small talk before Heiress realised that her stock of conversational gambits was dwindling. She needed to run a few more phrases through the ATM facility.
‘Where’s the bog in this gaff? I need to have a pee.’
‘I believe the lavatory is over there on the left…at least, the little boys’ room is. I’m quite certain that the ladies’ is adjacent to it.’
‘Bloody hope so. I’m bursting,’ she said as she rose from the table. Geezer immediately stood, smiling politely.
Heiress nodded to their drinks. ‘Wanna get another one in while I’m gone?’
She returned a few minutes later, sat down and glanced up towards the speakers. Geezer saw his cue to use the phrase which the ATM had provided when he typed in Banging tune this.
‘Must they play the music as loud as this, do you think?’ he asked her.
‘You know, you’re not at all how I expected you to be,’ said Heiress.
‘I was thinking the same about you,’ grinned Geezer and raised his glass. ‘Chee…er, chin-chin.’
‘Yeah, cheers,’ she replied as they clinked their glasses. ‘Here, hope you don’t mind if I keep my phone on the table. I’m expecting a call.’
‘No, that’s quite all right,’ said Geezer. ‘In fact, if you don’t mind, I’ll do so too.’
The conversation continued with both making surreptitious glances at the ATM app on their mobiles. By now, they were thoroughly baffled by the other’s dialect. After 20 minutes, Geezer decided that there seemed to be sufficient common ground for him to revert to his normal vernacular. Tentatively, he did so and found that Heiress appeared to have reached the same conclusion.
‘I hope you don’t mind me saying this,’ he said, ‘but me and my mates thought you was struggling with our banter yesterday but I’m not so sure now.’
‘Gosh, yes. There were times when I found it a bit difficult to keep up but – and I hope you don’t mind me saying this – you seem quite refined. Sorry, that came out wrong; I don’t mean to sound patronising.’
‘Er, I ain’t taking the piss, alright?’
‘Cool. Not being funny but is that the ATM app on your mobile that you keep looking at?’
‘Yes, guilty. And you?’
‘Afraid so. I just wasn’t sure about this.’
Heiress leaned back in her chair and laughed. ‘I suppose we both had the right intention. So I take it we can dispense with the subterfuge? Er, dispense with the pretence? Umm, carry on as normal.’
Geezer laughed: ‘Definitely, sounds good to me. I’ll put away me phone.’
‘And I’ll do the same. Don’t look just now but that guy at the table next to us keeps stealing glances at us. Do you know him?’