It was late, and Pixie Haircut and I were crossing the Bell Lane rec, when she said, apropos of nothing, “Do you think there are prostitutes in Lewes?”
Quick as a flash, I pulled on some fishnet stockings and posed provocatively under the lamp-post. However, it was so dark (the lamp wasn’t on), that Pixie didn’t notice, and I had to resort to calling out ‘Hello, Duckie,’ to get her attention. Yes, I am willing to concede that my representation of sex workers is slightly out of date.
I caught Pixie up (she’d hurried on ahead for some reason), and asked what had brought on this slightly left-field musing. She explained that on her way to meet me earlier that evening, she’d walked past a house where a lady in a state of déshabillé was standing in her doorway, waving an affectionately lewd goodbye to a much older gentleman. I won’t trouble you here with Pixie’s spirited re-enactment, but it did lead me to ask whether she definitely saw it, or was getting muddled up between real life and the Robin Askwith film, Confessions of a Window Cleaner.
“I definitely saw it, and no he wasn’t her father or grandfather or other plausible relation.”
“You know this because…”
“I just do.”
Pixie led me to this alleged house of ill-repute and we stood on the opposite side of the road, examining it for wantonness.
“There’s a light on,” she gasped, “at this hour!”
“Well,” I said, reasonably, “We’re out at this hour, and when we go home, we’ll probably put a couple of lights on so we can clean our teeth, put on our cold cream, etc.”
We speculated for a few more minutes, then the front door opened, making us jump. A burly man stepped out onto the path. Behind him stood the purported Lady of the Night, wearing a floral dressing gown which she was holding closed at the front. We tried to look inconspicuous, but we were clearly casing the joint.
“You two gonna be out here gabbing all night?” growled the man, shining a torch into our faces. “Me and the wife are trying to sleep.”
The woman behind him said, “Come on, Ray,” and with an extra frown, the man clicked off the torch and went back inside.
As soon as the front door slammed Pixie and I scuttled up the road and didn’t speak till we were outside my house. “Husband, my eye,” I said.
“He was clearly her husband,” Pixie said firmly. “So either he has no idea what’s going on. Or he’s, er, her business manager.”
I went indoors and reported our investigative findings to Man of the House.
“A red light district? In Lewes?” he snorted, spreading Gentlemen’s Relish onto an organic oatcake. “I don’t think so. Now if you were to say Newhaven, well, that’d be a different story.”
Beth Miller, 27th Feb 2015