I'm about to walk past a group of people shambling along in a post-club haze, when someone comes round the back and jumps out at me. I, having watched too many documentaries about binge-drinking, cringe backwards, expecting to be glassed or shot or God knows what. But hang on. It's a woman. Denim jacket, denim, mini-skirt, blonde shoulder-length hair. Actually, she's a sort. Next thing I know, she's linked her arm into mine, and we're walking up the street like we've known each other for ages. And bleddy hell, I do believe she's chatting me up. "Where yo' bin, duck?" she says. "Did you 'ave a good night? What's someone like yo' doing on 'is own, you're nice, you are"
As she unlinks her arm from mine and steers me up the street with her hand on my arse, my mind is going in two directions at once. On one hand, I'm fully aware that Nottingham on a Friday night magically transforms itself into RandomWorld, a mystical place where the slightest incident can either land you in someone else's bed or in A&E. And if this young lady wants to end her evening by cutting herself a slice of my Sex-Cake, I was totally happy to give her a plastic spoon and paper plate to go with it.
On the other hand...I’ve had five pints and the best part of two jugs of vodka and cranberry over the course of the evening. Not only that, but I’ve just caned a large tray of fishcake, chips and mushy peas, half of which is down me shirt. There aren't any mirrors about, but there's a very good chance that, right about now, I look as attractive as a carrier bag full of slugs.
And then she pulls me towards an alleyway.
And then she says "Have you got twenty quid, then?"
And then I realise that I am on a street that has the most CCTV cameras in the city. And I'm just around the corner from Forest Road, which, in Nottingham, has the acronym "For Oral Relief, Everyone Staggers Towards Radford - Obviously, After Dark". Oh. My. God. A penny the size of the Millennium Wheel drops.
Before this moment, I have only said two things to a prostitute; "No thank you, duck", and "No thank you, duck - and I wouldn't bother hanging outside here, it's the launch party for a Gay magazine". Yes, I've gawked through the windows in Amsterdam, and I've browsed the magazines with the endless adverts for Personal Services that mates who've been to Vegas bring back. And I'd be a lying bastard if I pretended I haven't asked myself if I could actually do it on more than, ooh, a thousand occasions.
But I'm picky. I'm a sucker for the idea that a woman is having sex with me because she likes me, or fancies me, instead of doing it to feed her kids, or herself, or a habit. Instead of feeling incredibly aroused at the chance of a filthy encounter for the cost of a ticket to see Nottingham Forest, I start to panic. And I feel gullible as fuck, and get defensive. I honestly didn't know, Officer. Yes, she’s dressed like a prostitute, but its Friday night. Everyone in Nottingham dresses like a prostitute on Friday night. Even me.
I start to back-pedal. I tell her that, however attractive she is, I’m not interested. Not being judgmental or looking down me nose at you, love, but…I just can’t. Please don't try to have sex with me. Please.
She sighs a bit, understands, and I walk her back to the entrance of Forest Road. She tells me it’s nice to talk to a bloke on a level playing field and not through a car window, and I try to tell her to look after herself. She gives me a hug and wishes me goodnight. I walk off, feeling extremely right-on about myself.
And then I pat the back of my trousers, and realise my wallet has gone.
“Alright, give us it back,” I huff, after legging it back over to her.
“Dunno what you’re going on about, love.”
I take a deep breath.
“Look, there’s only a fiver in there. All I’ve got is a cashpoint card which I’m going to cancel right now, and a gym card that I never use. You can even keep the wallet - it was free out of a magazine. But there’s a photo of my God-daughter in there, who is my favourite person in the world, and I’m not leaving until I’ve got it back.”
She looks away, as if I'm not there. So I reach over, take hold of her wrist, and squeeze it firmly but gently until she looks me in the eye. And I say the following;
“I’m single, I’m self-employed, I’ve done nothing wrong, and you know it. If you don’t give me that picture back, I’m calling the Police right now.”
And amazingly, she does. Along with the wallet. Fully intact.
I don't want to leave on bad terms, so I rummage in my pocket and give her the £1.50. Then I walk home, wondering what £1.50 would usually get you from a prostitute. Maybe they'd agree to point at your crotch from across the road, or something. And I walk home, laughing with relief.
Moral of the story; although I know quite a bit about sex, that doesn't stop me from being a naive bell-end every now and then.