We left the story of Helen and I at the point where she went off to Manchester, I tried to find a job and we both got mad at a store detective.
Once Helen headed off to Manchester, I am ashamed to say that I turned into something of a hopeless case, a genuine lovesick puppy. Whilst it is understandable to miss someone, it is definitely not acceptable to let it affect every part of your waking day, especially at work. But that is exactly what I did.
Helen, on the other hand, was thrown straight into the weekly routine of the Denton branch of Sainsbury’s. The only concession to her being a student management trainee was that she only had to work every other Saturday (there being no Sunday trading in those days). The rest of the time she was treated just like every other management trainee and had little time to miss me.
Well, except when she was back in her digs at the end of a shift. I don’t know if any of you have ever been to Denton, but the best thing you can say for it is that it is slightly more appealing than the previous suburb, Gorton. But that is really like saying that cat poo is better than dog poo. Gorton at the time had a big sign at the boundary saying ‘Nuclear Free Zone’ and my immediate reaction was ‘Why bother?’. Denton was better until you remembered that Mick Hucknall from Simply Red came from there, at which point you just wanted to leave and scrub yourself clean in a bath of acid.
Denton having no redeeming features whatsoever, Helen spent a lot of time either at work or in her digs with her evil landlady, who by a curious coincidence was called Joan, just like the evil store detective. The only good thing I can say about Joan the Evil Landlady was that she once gave me a bowl of soup. Other than that, she was unwelcoming, bad tempered, and would go into Helen’s room and read her mail – we knew because we did the old ‘hair stuck across the desk drawer’ trick. Not to mention listening in on our telephone conversations. We took to referring to her as ‘The Witch’.
For some strange reason the door to Helen’s room was entirely frosted glass, apart from a small wooden frame. Which meant that Joan could also see everything that went on in there, even if only through some sort of strange, Dali-esque prism vision. Which might, now I come to think of it, have accounted for her attitude towards us.