Janice Bell: I fear my mate's date has shown her the red card...

IT'S Sunday afternoon and my girlfriends and I meet in a local bar for a couple of hours for a few drinks and a catch up.

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There's usually a small crowd of us and we always look forward to the banter.

Sometimes one of us might be a bit down, occasionally we're all a bit down but, over the years there has NEVER been a time when we have left without a smile on our face.

And here's a little glimpse of why.

We settle down with an array of drinks and can't wait to commence with the gossip, especially on how one of our friend's Mae, got on with her date the evening before.

Me: Well Mae, we can't wait to hear all about it. How did your date go last night?

We want to know everything.

Angela: What's his name?

Christine (interrupting): Where did you go?

We were all very inquisitive and had a long list of questions.

However, Mae appeared a little less than her usual excitable self.

It had been a number of months since Mae was last out on a date and understandably, she had been nervous all week but had been looking forward to it all the same.

Mae: Well … his name is George. I met him last Friday in a bar in the West End.

We listen intently as Mae continues.

Mae: He bought me a drink and we chatted for a while.

To be honest, I couldn't make out a lot of what he was saying because of the really loud music in the bar.

However, he took my number, texted me and invited me out last night for dinner.

We were enjoying this.

Mae: We went for a meal in Merchant Square. It was lovely. I was looking forward to being able to chat without having to shout above a noise.

George was very polite. He was quite shy and quiet. He didn't say very much but I didn't mind. You know I like the quiet type.

Me: And? Did you have plenty to talk about? I asked, knowing how difficult it usually is to get a word in when Mae starts She certainly knows how to talk. I just hope he is a good listener, I thought to myself.

Mae (barely stopping for breathe): Yes. I talked about my job, where I was going on holiday, my family and all about my new laptop.

Angela: So it went well then? She was clearly keen to find out more about our pal's 'new man.'

So far, so good. All was sounding very promising.

Mae: Yes, it did. We had a lovely night. Until the bill came, that is.

Mae was frowning and now looking a little less enthusiastic than when she first arrived.

Angela: Why? Was it expensive?

Mae: Not particularly.

She paused and took a long sip of her drink before beginning to explain.

Mae: The bill came and I said: 'Right George, let me get that'.

George Absolutely not.

Mae: Please, I'm happy to pay.

George: Definitely not.

No way.

He was quite insistent and was shaking his head, said Mae.

Mae: Well, at least let's half it.

But George was adamant.

George: No, Mae. Let's not cause a scene. I am paying.

Mae, determined not to let it go: It's only fair, there's no way you can afford to pay for a meal.

George (looking confused: Well I'm no millionaire, Mae, but I can afford to take you out for dinner.

Mae: I just thought, you know (endeavoring to be kind) you know, when we chatted last Friday you mentioned that you were a refugee.

George, looking puzzled: I said I was what?

Mae: A REFUGEE. I assume you don't have a lot of money.

George, stunned, eventually breaks the silence: Mae, I'm a REFEREE!

Reaching for his wallet, George turns to Mae with a perplexed look on his face.

George: I wondered why you asked if I liked it here in Scotland and if I'd settled in. Mae, I've lived in Saltcoats all my life.

We all sat open mouthed staring at Mae and no one had a clue what to say next.

Eventually, Mae broke the embarrassing silence.

And with a look of bewilderment on her face she said: "Funny thing is. I've been checking my phone all day and I haven't heard from him."

We wondered why...

Food and drink

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