Swylce

Musings and Writing of GG Alexander

Savage Writing: Ru Fortescue

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This week’s theme was “Chichester-Fortescue”, inspired by a portrait on the wall of the pub room where we meet. Ended up spilling this at the last minute, and it turned out to be a longer piece which reads pretty quickly. Read it in your best Scottish teenager voice.

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I started going out with Ru because I was bored. You know, that kind of life-boredom that sinks in every so often, where you just want to stand up and do something crazy. It was like that. Well, going out with Ru wasn’t crazy back then – in fact, it was pretty normal, and it was apparently obvious to everyone around us that we’d go well together, and they’d just been waiting for it to happen. I didn’t really think about it until he asked me out, and then I thought for a couple of seconds, realised that I had nothing really fun going on at the moment, and said ‘Sure.’

It’s not like either of us was the romantic type. I mean, we would just hang around with our friends, talking and listening to music and watching Ross Cable and his friends fail at skateboarding. Ru had only started at our school a few years ago, and he was really quiet and first and probably only hung out with us because we were the only other people in our year that had lip piercings and dyed hair. The first time I remember even noticing him was when I made an obscure Simpsons quote and he was the only one that laughed, so it went from there. We were friends, and that was cool. His family lived away in the country so he lived with his grown-up cousin instead, and that was cool, and he had a guitar and three different games consoles and LOADS of music and CDs, and that was awesome. Apart from that, we just hung out, and one time at his he said, ‘D’you fancy going to the cinema later?’ and I said ‘Sure,’ and he said, ‘Like, as a date,’ and I said ‘Are you asking me out?’ and he said, ‘Like, I guess.’ Not much changed after that for a while; took him two weeks to get the courage to put his arm round me, let alone kiss me.

Anyway, none of that’s the point. The point is I wasn’t exactly in to him, and was only going out with him for a change of pace, to mix things up in the group, that sort of thing. He didn’t really talk much about his old school – said they were all wankers – or why he was living with his cousin and not his family, but we didn’t ask that kind of thing as long as there were better things to talk about, which there always was. So I was surprised when I said I wanted to go see Squirrel Bait but they were only playing in Edinburgh, and I’d have nowhere to stay, and he said ‘You can stay at my house.’

‘I thought you lived out in the middle of nowhere?’ I said.

‘Yeah, but I can get us a lift back after the gig,’ he said.

‘Well, okay, whatever,’ I said, because I didn’t really like the idea of seeing his actual family. I guess I imagined they were pig farmers or something.

Still, I wasn’t going to miss the chance to go see my favourite band, so I wore my best gig clothes – everything black and tight except my pink hair, with fishnets and boots bigger than my head. Most of the time we wore practically the same clothes – if he’d been a little shorter we could have swapped them – but that night he wore a black shirt and tie with piano keys on it, had an entire tub of gel in his hair, and we looked AWESOME. We went through on the train, and the gig was great. During one of the romantic songs Ru kissed me and I actually thought it was rather sweet. Afterwards, I was buzzing from the music – ears literally buzzing – and we went outside to wait for his parents to pick us up. I was looking for a big dirty landrover, but he pointed at this sleek car I could barely see in the dark, and his parents weren’t there – instead, he got in and said ‘Hi Mark,’ to the driver so I assumed it was his uncle or something. I still didn’t get it; I got in, said ‘Nice to meet you,’ to the guy up front, then gibbered about the music all the way back. You know, the countryside is DARK at night, so I didn’t bother looking out the windows until some lights came up ahead – brighter lights than I expected, a bit much for a farmhouse I thought. Then I looked out the window – and I swear, it was like a cartoon, my jaw hit the floor.

It was like some kind of stately home – long, loads of windows, old and dignified-looking with big steps out the front and bushes and walls at the back, leading to gardens I guess. And the car was heading straight for the front of it, as if that was its destination. I turned and looked at Ru, and he seemed completely calm, like it was normal.

‘Dude,’ I said, ‘no way is this your house.’

‘Yeah,’ he said. ‘Did I never tell you?’

‘Tell me what? That you lived in a castle?’

‘It’s not a castle, it’s a house. Fortescue House.’

The car stopped and he stepped out and jogged up the steps like it was nothing, me grabbing my bag and running after him. He pushed open the door – what kind of family doesn’t lock their stately home? – and walked in, shouting ‘Hey guys, it’s me!’

‘Rupert, we’re through here!’ a voice called. I snorted.

‘Rupert?’

‘It’s my name,’ he said, looking a bit hurt, I admit. ‘Rupert Chichester-Fortescue. I’m just Ru Fortescue at school.’

I wouldn’t know – I wasn’t actually in any of his classes. ‘So, what, you’re secretly some duke or something?’

‘No, I’m a Lord,’ he said. ‘Come on, mum wants to say hi.’

I followed him into a side corridor – this all took place in a MASSIVE woody-panelled hall, by the way – and he went into this HUGE living room, the sort of thing from a period drama, with a roaring fireplace and hound dogs and two people in jeans and jumpers sitting reading next to it.

‘Hey mum, dad. This is my girlfriend, Linzi.’

They were average looking parents. I mean that in a bad way. Don’t rich people know they’re not allowed to look like everyone else? Didn’t Ru know that?!

‘Nice to meet you,’ his mum said with a nice smile. ‘Did you have a good gig?’

‘Yeah, it was good. Gonna head to bed. Is a room made up?’

‘Yeah, the grey room’s ready for you. David’ll wake you up for breakfast. Don’t be late!’

‘Cool,’ he said, and whisked me away. I googled his parents later and found out his dad – who didn’t say a word to me – was a goddamn earl. Just not fair, for rich people to look so normal. He wasn’t even wearing any tweed!

‘Wait, wait,’ I said as Ru took me back into the hall and up the stairs. ‘You’re a lord. And you have, what, servants to drive you about and make you breakfast?’

‘They’re not servants!’ he said, sounding pretty offended. ‘They’re staff! Anyway, I’ll show you your room. If you like, tomorrow I can show you about the grounds -‘

‘Wait one fucking minute,’ I said, stopping on the landing. ‘Why didn’t you tell me you were mega rich?’

‘I’m not mega rich. We’re just an old family,’ he said. ‘Why are you going off on me, man?’

‘I dunno! I didn’t expect it! If you’d warned me I would have worn a dress or something!’

It was a lie – I didn’t own any dresses. But most of my clothes would have been better than my foot-stomping boots and leather miniskirt.

‘Jesus, we’re not like the royal family or something. We’re just like normal people.’

‘Dude,’ I said, ‘this is not normal!’

‘I know!’ he said. ‘Fuck’s sake, man. I knew it was a good thing I never mentioned it. I moved to town to get away from all that snobbery shite, Linzi. I thought you’d be better than to judge me on it.’

Why the hell would he think that? He barely knew me, like I barely knew him. But he sounded upset and I guess it caught my imagination, the idea of someone wanting to get away from private schools and people who say “ooh, yah”, into whatever rich-person idea of normality he had. Like three games consoles and a guitar in a big detached house.

‘I don’t judge you,’ I said. ‘I mean, if you wanna live normally, I guess that’s cool. I just wish you’d warned me. I’m totally losing my buzz from the gig here.’

He smiled. He was pretty cute when he smiled.

‘Come on then,’ he said. ‘Knowing mum, she’ll want us up at stupid o’clock for breakfast, so we should probably sleep.’

You know that bit in Pride and Prejudice where Lizzy Bennet sees Mr Darcy’s house for the first time, and even though she’s been all principled up til then, she admits she’s a shallow bitch and likes him more because he has a nice house? I want to say it was like that, because that’s simple and makes me seem like a bad person. But it wasn’t like that. I did like Ru more after that, but I actually hated visiting his house, and I never told anyone that he was some Lord from the country until they found out themselves, because that Lord wasn’t him, that was the Rupert Chichester-Fortescue guy whose name was on the peerage registry. I guess I liked him more because I admired how well he’d left it behind, or something. I dunno. What it comes down to is that, though I only started going out with him because I was bored, I stayed with him because I suddenly appreciated how cool it was to hang around with a guy that laughs along when the skaters fail their flips, and who gets all your obscure Simpsons quotes. The rest of it just grew from there, and I was never very bored again.

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I have a friend who is an actual lady. She had a dyed pixie crop at the time I found this out, and a giant tattoo of a cherry blossom branch all over her back, so I couldn’t believe it, but it’s true. She’s also a writer and was in my first writing group in Glasgow. Life’s funny sometimes.

P.S. Ru is a perfectly acceptable shortening of the boy’s name Ruaridh (roo-ree). Rupert is a completely non-acceptable name for a Scottish boy 😛

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Written by G.J.

17/10/2012 at 10:50 pm

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