Good evening once again. I am Dr. Ball, and this is another in my series of educational features on the concepts of love and romance, following the successes and failures of the companions of time travellers to see how larger their potential has grown as a result of the alterations in their lives, and exactly how the (somewhat elusive and mysterious) man known as the Doctor has helped, or perhaps hindered, their progress. Following on from “Jamie Pulls a Bird”, “Mike Pulls a Bloke” and “Adric Pulls a Muscle”, we bring you another case study for your assessment and perusal, so that you may, we hope, learn something that may assist you in your own romantic lives. Or perhaps you may empathise with the subject and be able to compare similar experiences. Some of you may just wish to have, as we call it in the profession, a “snigger” at the trials and tribulations detailed here today. Just take what applies to you and run with it, though please bring it back, as we’ve only got the one copy.
Our subject today is Mr. Benjamin Jackson, a sailor in the Royal Navy from 1966, and the setting is a nightclub in the early 1970s period. It should be noted that Benjamin is still travelling with the Doctor at this point; this might be important later, and there will be a short test afterwards. It may interest you to know that this recording is not performed by actors — the people contained within are indeed real people. Though, having said that, it has often been pointed out that a one Mr. Robin Askwith can be spotted in the background during several shots, so some clarification of my earlier point should be given, namely that Mr. Askwith is indeed a real person, although his connections to being termed an “actor” are tenuous.
However, without further ado, may we please all put on our headsets and watch the Matrix screens in front of us — and may we give gratitude to our good Dr. Mortimus for loaning us this technology. We shall now begin.
You look around the crowded club, and squint under the harsh glare of the strobe lighting that threatens to burn out your eyes — but in a good way. You haven’t been in a place like this in a long time — somewhere normal, somewhere fun. Somewhere close to home. The sweat glistens on your forehead — dancing as best you can has done you no favours so far, but the tension is slack, you feel more confident now. Thirst burns in your throat, and your legs swagger to the bar, your body and senses not far behind you. Limbs beat against you as you jostle through the heaving throng of people, but it doesn’t hurt. Not really. Your hands grip the bar and you lean for support, breathing heavily, heart beating, slowing. Somebody looms up in front of you and asks you what you want. You tell him, and wait. Cool liquid pours down your throat, and makes you choke — slow down. Looking back to the rest of them, you prepare. Jutting out your jaw, a clap of the hands, a grin at nobody in particular.
Until you see her. Catching your stare, not giving it back, not letting you get away. But then. you don’t want to get away, do you? A discreet look over the shoulder, and you begin to make your way over, slowly and deliberately. She smiles at your approach.
Now, as somebody famous once said, repeatedly, “Contact has been made.” First impressions are always important, especially the first time. How one looks leaves an indelible image on the brain of your target, as does how you speak, what you say when you speak (remember that the one action cannot occur without the other), and generally how you present yourself. Benjamin does not look timid, he isn’t nervously shuffling throughout his journey across the floor towards the lady, he’s striding, a gleam in his eye. This will make the lady think one of two things, namely: A) “Here is a man who knows what he wants, knows how he’s going to get it, and I want to let him get it because he has several qualities that I personally find attractive,” or B) “He just wants to have sex with me, the filthy swine.” This style of walking is therefore a gamble, but one that would appear to have worked in this case — notice the widening smile of the lady, the sensual flicker of the eyelashes, and the furtive sucking of a polo mint. Now, what will Benjamin say to her? How will he introduce himself? Let’s see.
The stool beside her is vacant, and you slide onto it, an elbow resting against the surface of the bar. Her eyes narrow slightly, but her smile doesn’t dissipate. You licks your lips quickly, and speak.
“’Ello, darlin’! Fancy-“
“’Ello, darlin’.” Notice the dropping of the “h” sound from “Hello,” — this creates a nice, friendly tone if used in the right hands. If not, however, then you sound like a pervert. For the sake of argument we shall assume that the former has taken place. The using of “darling,” deserves further comment, though not one which I should like to make.
“Fancy a drink?”
She looks you up and down. “Yeah, cheers.” She makes the request, and you order, with something for yourself as well, of course.
“You enjoying yerself?”
“Oh, yes.” A laugh, friendly, sexy. “You been here long?”
“A while, yeah. Nice place, ‘innit? I’ve never actually been ‘ere before, mind. You a regular?”
“Not really, but I’ve been here before once or twice.”
Drinks are served. Hers comes with a straw. She sucks it, holding the glass, eyes watching the level of the drink go down, before they swivel up to meet yours. You keep smiling.
Eye contact is essential in courtship. I mean, if you don’t look at her, she could run away. Here, we have ascended from the base action, and moved onto the “subliminal stage”. Unspoken messages are being transferred through eyes alone, with connotations or innuendoes being suggested at the same time. I used to be good at innuendoes, but at my age it gets too hard and I really don’t have the time to spare.
“You here with friends?”
She cocks her head. “Yeah, they’re over there, dancing. Already had boyfriends to bring with them.”
“Where’s yours?” You know the answer. You’re glad when you hear it.
“I haven’t got one. That’s why I’m here.” A pause, smiles fixed. “My friends thought it might do me good.”
“Still, early days, eh?”
She nods. Stares into you. “Fancy a spin?”
“What? Oh, a dance? Yeah, all right. Come on!”
She finishes the drink, and takes your hand. You move.
Some of you may be thinking, “I say, Ball, old man, isn’t all this being played out rather suddenly?” Of course, you would be right — they’ve barely been in each others company for more than a couple of minutes and already they’re dancing and making suggestive remarks to each other. It isn’t for me to say whether this provides good foundations for an early relationship — I met my wife at a funeral — but then again, not everybody wants a relationship anyway. A spot of nefarious excitement will do some people, and some people just want to be done nefariously. So I’ve heard. I wouldn’t know myself, because I’m married. Should you have sex before marriage? To this I say that yes, you can, so long as it doesn’t hold up the ceremony. Certainly, it all stopped shortly after mine, but then you don’t need to worry, as you lot won’t be courting my wife. As a matter of fact, neither will I.
Anyway, we now rejoin Benjamin and Rebecca — yes, he knows her name now — back at the bar, about ninety minutes after we last left them. During this time, they have danced in various fashions, occasionally even doing it provocatively. Whether this also provokes you, watching, is another matter, but if it does, then may I recommend a glass of water. They have also been chatting and making small talk, and have found out a modicum of information about one another. Alcohol has also been consumed — I cannot stress harder how alcohol is not an aphrodisiac, it just helps you forget everything the next morning.
Back where you both started. The only thing in hand is a drink. You look at her and laugh; you don’t know why, but it feels natural. Probably. You’re both pissed. She-
Whoops. I apologise for that, somebody’s been tampering with the recording.
Back where you both started. The only thing in hand is a drink. You look at her and laugh; you don’t know why, but it feels natural. Probably. You’re both drunk. She flicks her hair from her eyes, and her voice soars above the music.
“So, what do you do?”
“Oh! Sorry, I’m a sailor. Y’know, for her Majesty and all that lark.”
“Ooo, you’ve got a uniform, eh? So what are you doing on land, shore leave?”
“Um… actually, yeah, sort of! Shore leave, that’s right!” You laugh.
“So,” her voice takes on an edge, “You staying on land long?”
“I’m here for as long as you want me to be.”
Crude, but effective in this situation. She grins, and leans forward. A kiss. And another. A third. And a question.
“You living nearby here?”
Ah yes, and here we come to the crux of this particular problem: you’ve got her warmed up, on the boil, as it were, and indeed it is, and you want to invite her back to your accommodation, but, for whatever reason, you can’t. Maybe because you’re still living with your parents, or the landlord won’t allow it because he prefers snooker. In Benjamin’s case, it’s because he lives in a police box — but realism isn’t the issue here, you can still sympathise, I trust. Now, what do you do? Well, I know what I’d do — I’d get divorced once the wife found out. But that’s not for everybody, and, for that matter, neither is my wife. Anyway, there are many solutions, but we’ll just see which one Benjamin comes up with.
“Yeah, yeah, I’ve got some digs near here, a bed n’ breakfast. I think.”
“You mean you don’t know?” Giggle.
“No, I don’t mean that. Just that it, er… well, it could be called a lot of things.”
“So could you.”
You reach forward and rub her thigh. She watches you for a while, and then shuts her eyes, tipping her head back. Hearts beat.
Well, Benjamin had the advantage of being a sailor on shore leave, or, at least, that’s what he said, so therefore he wasn’t expected to have had a regular place of accommodation. Now, whether you take your little lady back to a hotel under the pretence of being a sailor on shore leave is your own affair — I don’t want it, I’ve got my own.
Minutes pass, silently. Watching, touching, breathing. It’s time to go.
“I’ll be back in a minute, darlin’. Don’t go anywhere, will ya’?”
“I’ll be here, lover.”
A kiss, a knowing grin. You stride to the gents.
Well, we’ve all been there. That’s right, I’m referring to Reading. But we’ve also all been to public lavatories. A jimmy riddle and you’re away, we needn’t dwell on this. We rejoin this case study once he’s left and back in the bar again. Oh, and for your knowledge, he bought the ones with a picture of a boat on them.
You leave, adjusting your trousers. Gazing over at the bar — she’s still there. Waiting for you. You momentarily question the morality of all this. Momentarily.
You get back to her, and tap her on the shoulder. She swivels round, and you kiss her, full on the lips. She enjoys it, and when you break she nibbles your bottom lip. You draw your head away, your face an inch away from hers.
She laughs, and allows you to take her hand — she slides off the stool. You look around to find the doors. You find them. There’s a man standing there. You see each other. The man wanders over. The evening ends.
Yes, well, it can’t be roses all the time, can it? Now, some of the other chaps in this series got around the problem of the Doctor successfully. Benjamin is one of the unlucky ones. Well, I felt it best to show you what can go wrong, and here it is. For those of you who don’t travel with Time Lords, then just mentally replace him with your mother / father / Mrs. Ball.
She looks at you, quizzically. “What’s wrong?”
“Who? The old bloke?”
“You know him?”
Before you can reply, the old man is next to you, spluttering into a handkerchief. “Ah, Ben, there you are. Dear, dear, dear, all this smoke, it’s most unhealthy!” A punctuating cough. “How you can stand it I don’t know, my boy.”
“Doctor, look, I’m-“
“And this music is far too loud. Tsk! Anybody would think you were all deaf! Huh!” Dismissal. Suddenly, he actually notices her. “Ah, er, friend of yours, I take it?”
“Sort of. Y’see-“
“Delighted to meet you, young lady, I’m certain.”
She’s confused. “Er, thanks. You too. You his dad or something?”
“Dad?” Mystified. “Good grief, no. I should say not! Do you think any child of mine would speak such appalling English as that, hmm?” An indignant look, and another cough into the handkerchief.
Sweat breaks out on your forehead. “Doctor, look, do you think-“
“Now, now, young man, you’ve been away quite a while now. I’ve affected repairs to the TARDIS scanner — and you were lucky that this was Earth! The way you — you strolled out of the ship without even having checked the instruments!” He’s making you feel small, he’s your commanding officer. He’s caught you out. He’ll throw the book at you. “How many times have I told you to check the atmosphere readings, hmm? If the air outside had been poisonous you’d have had it, wouldn’t you? Actually,maybe it would have been better if it had been, you might have learnt a valuable lesson! Yes, it’s a pity isn’t it! It’s a pity!”
She’s terrified. “Ben, can we go, please?”
He looks at both of you, eyes narrowed, swivelling. No words. None needed.
You swallow. “Well, look, Doctor, see, it’s like this-“
“Mr. Jackson, we don’t have time for you to go gallivanting about the place with friends, we’ve got to leave. Polly’s waiting for you back at the ship.”
“Polly? Who’s Polly, Ben? Eh?”
But the Doctor hasn’t finished. “She was worried about you, you were meant to have come back hours ago! She’d been… shopping, or some such activity…”
You’re all washed up.
“She’s just a friend-“
“Oh, yeah, sure. Living with her, then?”
“Well, sort of, but it ain’t-“
We’ve edited out a sentence for reasons of taste. Just so you all know.
You just take the abuse. The Doctor is appalled.
“Charming! Huh! Charming!”
She turns on him. “Oh shut up, you mental old… man!” Back to you. “I don’t mind a bit of fun, but as far as I’m concerned, you can-“
The ending of that sentence has also been edited, for similar reasons to the edit above. Nothing really important was said in it, and what she suggested wasn’t only rude and unhygienic, it was also physically impossible.
She picks up her handbag, delivers a punch to your gut, and storms away, out of the nightclub and out of your life. The Doctor gives you no time to mourn your loss.
“Well, we’re better off rid of her company, at least. Disgusting language. Anyway, let’s get back to the ship, this place is giving me the most abominable headache, ah.” He rubs his forehead and staggers slightly. Instinctively you support him. You always have. He brushes your hands away. “Thank you, that’s not necessary, thank you. And we should attend to that injury of yours, yes. A good long rest is what you need! Hm-hm! Come along, my boy.”
And off he strides, in that cloak and hat of his, using his stick to push the rowdier dancers out of his way.
You sigh, and swear under your breath. Drunk breath. A splitting headache for nothing.
You go back to the ship, and carry on your fantasy of a life.
Sorry, Ben. Better luck next time.
And so ends our recording, and what have we learnt? The more discerning of you will probably say: nothing at all. And you’d probably be right. However, I would certainly suggest that, should you find yourself in such a situation, keep this little video in mind — you might not actually get any, but at least you’ll be able to avoid that punch to the gut. Have it out, have it on, have it off — it’s all the same. Maybe you should just jack it all in? I certainly did, and it’s done wonders for my health. Anyway, we’ll do the test next week. I’m off now to attend to the little lady at home, and if I’m lucky then Mrs. Ball won’t catch us. Such is the stuff of many an argument, and that neatly sums up my own argument here tonight: get stuffed. Good night!