My So-called Life: Looks like we (haven't) made it, Bazza

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The Independent Online

I am, I do believe, rather in love. Perhaps even ecstatically so.

I am, I do believe, rather in love. Perhaps even ecstatically so. Last night, for example, I would not have been able to sleep a wink had I not slept right through without any problem, but if there was ever a night when I wouldn't have been able to sleep a wink, then last night was almost certainly it. Oh, how my pulse would have raced and how my heart would have fluttered if only I hadn't nodded off quite so promptly. No, I am not telling you whom I'm in love with. Oh, very well then, you've twisted my arm, as I suspected you would. It's Barry Manilow! Could it be magic? I very much suspect so. A miracle, a true-blue spectacle? Hey, steady on.

I know, I know, you are shocked and surprised, but no more than I am, believe me. It was the last thing I expected, especially at my age, when I can't help nodding off and a single toffee takes half my teeth out with it, but there it is. There is no accounting for these things. And perhaps I could just about squeeze one last baby out. A Little Baby Bazza, who will wear ruffles and sequinned catsuits and show early promise on the maracas. No pathetic big nose jokes, please. Plus, I look at it this way: here is a man who has something to offer a woman, no matter which way up he happens to be. We will have a sense of humour about it, anyway.

Laugh, I shall tell him wisely, and the world laughs with you but sneeze, my darling, and I will need advance warning to hang on to my hat. He will be grateful for the advice. "Baby I love you," he will say, "come, come, come into my arms." Alright, I will say, but I heard you the first time. He will be a good father, never too busy to help Baby Bazza with his catsuit fastenings or maraca action. I will share everything with him apart, perhaps, from my cocaine. Let's not get carried away here. I don't, by the way, know where we will honeymoon. Hawaii is too expensive. Barbados isn't bad. I'd love to see Bermuda but I know what Barry is going to say: "Woman, are you mad?" That's the Bermuda Triangle out then.

How and when did all this happen? I'll tell you. There I was, on Saturday evening, not doing very much beyond eating a family-sized pack of Revels to find out what the "new centre" was (raisin, most disappointingly, as I was hoping for the return of coconut) and licking the chocolate off the toffee ones before discarding them, when I happened to turn on the telly, and it was One Night with Barry Manilow. Now, I didn't even know I liked Bazza then, let alone loved him, but I watched the whole thing, utterly transfixed, enjoying every minute apart from those which showed Anthea Turner bopping orgasmically in the front row.

I was quite cross about that, I admit. Slag! No better, frankly, than that Lola, who was a showgirl, with yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there. She was a slag, too. Hands off my Barry, Anth! Or I'll pull your hair and kick that Bovey thing you go around with. That's told her, I think.

Anyway, I watched it on our little portable up in the bedroom, then, as is only proper, came downstairs to confess all to my partner and son, who were watching some detective rubbish on the TV in the living-room.

"I am in love," I announced.

"Out the way," they said. "Do you think you're made of glass?"

"I'm in love," I repeated, with a soft rushing noise that may have been a rapturous sigh but, then again, may have been the strange whistling sound my teeth make these days.

"Who with?" asked my son.

"Barry Manilow," I replied.

"Who's he?" he asked.

"Who is he? Who is he?" I gasped. "He only wrote the songs that make the whole world sing, you stupid oaf."

"He," interrupted his father, "is a cheesy singer of shmaltz, with a huge nose and poofy hair."

Isn't it terrible, what rage and jealousy can lead people to say? But I understand. He doesn't want to lose me. "I'm sorry," I said, "but if it comes to it, I'm going to leave you for Bazza." "You know I can't smile without you," he didn't say. Instead, he put a brave, dignified face on it and said: "Good. Are you off now?" Oh, shadow of a man, a face through a window, cryin' in the night. Actually, I didn't look at him through the window but that's what I'd have seen if I had, and if he hadn't have been trying to cover his feelings by watching Match of the Day as usual.

The following morning, after another night that would have been bad if I hadn't slept so soundly, and feeling no less smitten, I made it though the rain to Crouch End for the purpose of buying my Barry's latest CD, Ultimate Manilow, in the one remaining record shop. However, once I got there, the one remaining record shop appeared to be a branch of Clinton Cards. When did that happen? This is the thing about true love: you stop seeing what is going on around you.

"Do you have any Barry Manilow CDs," I asked the lady on the till. "No," she said, trying to fob me off with a Forever Friends stationery set and "I Love My Grandma" novelty mug, but I wasn't having any of it. "Goodbye," I said, "although, sometimes, goodbyes are not forever. Letting go is just another way to say I'll always love you so." "You what?" she said. I don't know how Clinton Cards recruit their staff, but suspect their IQ does not have to be especially high.

So, it was home again, empty handed, but no matter. I did some research on the net and not only ordered Ultimate Manilow but also the Ultimate Manilow Italian Watch - with a photograph of my beloved on the face - and was then about to approach all the fan sites, to tell them how Barry and I loved each other, when I was bumped off the computer by my son who had a school project on Indian independence to complete. "Ah, Gandhi," I said. "he came and he gave without taking." I think you can learn all you'll ever need to know from Barry's songs. Expect your wedding invite soon, if not before October goes.

d.ross@independent.co.uk

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