I was sliding off my barstool when the drinks began to take hold. Then Betty Draper walked in. At first I saw only the blonde hair and mistook her for one of the promotional models who had been roaming the bar flogging Magners, but when I stole a sly glance at her arse I noticed she wasn’t wearing hotpants and I realised that although she may have been selling something, it wasn’t cider. Not that she wasn’t wearing anything on her bottom half, of course. She was wearing a lovely summer dress and looked as angelic as ever, which was lucky because right then an angel was just what I needed.
‘Thank God you’re here Betty. Is Don around? I really need to borrow some money.’ I had just spent the last of my money buying a drink for a petrified waitress who had just finished her shift, and paid for it almost entirely in 20p coins, which the barman appreciated even less than my sleazy tactics with his co-worker.
‘I’m not Betty,’ she said, sipping her Gimlet. ‘I’m January.’ I had no fucking idea how she got a Gimlet in The Kitchen Bar.
‘This is important,’ I said. ‘I’m in big trouble.’
‘Yes, you are. But I’m here to help.’
And then we were in the Oh Yeah Music Centre.
I was leaning across the bar with a plastic cup of Bushmills, asking the barmaid for one of the tiny beers I had seen a bunch of people drinking.
‘We don’t sell those,’ she said. ‘I don’t know where they got them.’ I grinned, pleased by the fact that I wasn’t the only person who had brought booze to the damn thing. I threw back the whiskey in one.
‘Another one of these then!’ I said.
‘You should slow down on the drinks,’ said Betty.
‘Betty! How rude of me. What are you having?’
‘I’m not Betty,’ she said again. ‘My name is January.’
‘It was a very good year…’ I crooned, doing my best Sinatra.
‘That doesn’t make any sense Ian.’
‘No I suppose not.’
We moved over to stand beside the piano and I necked the whiskey again, realising I had lost track of how many I had drank. Fuck it, I decided, and poured myself a measure of Jack from my hip flask.
‘Why are you drinking so much?’ she asked.
‘What are you talking about? You and Don drink like fish. Fish? Fishes?’
‘There is no me and Don, Ian. You are thinking of a character I played, and if you remember Betty leaves Don and he almost ruins his life with alcohol.
‘I thought that was all just a horrible dream,’ I said.
‘No this is a dream,’ she said. ‘That really happened… on TV anyway.’
‘So none of this is real?’
‘Actually a lot of it did happen.’
‘Did I really hassle that waitress?’
‘Don’t curse Ian.’
‘January,’ she said.
And then there was a band playing.
‘Are you going to write about this on Friday?’ she asked.
‘I have to.’
‘Are they going to get a good write-up?’
‘Yeah, they’re pretty damn good.’
‘What are they called?’
‘I don’t know…’
‘You should find out before you try to write about them,’ she said.
‘I know. That’s Cara Cowan and Katie from Katie And The Carnival singing with them. I know that much.’
‘Lucky guy huh?’
‘Well he’s a rockstar, it’s to be expected. He even looks like Kurt Cobain.’
‘He is quite sexy.’
‘You better hope Don doesn’t hear you talking like that.’
‘Betty isn’t with Don any more. She’s with Henry.’
‘I thought that was all just a horrible dream too.’
‘Concentrate Ian,’ she said. ‘You have to write about this.’
‘It’s okay, I’ll just pull something out of my ass at the last minute and it will be awesome.’
‘That won’t work.’
‘It always works for Don.’
‘You’re not Don, Ian.’ Of course I knew that, but hearing her say it hurt like hell.
‘Yeah, you’re right,’ I said, and had a drink straight from the flask.
‘You can’t expect real life to be like Mad Men,’ she said.
‘That’s easy for you to say, you’re just like Betty.’
‘Well I am Betty.’
‘But I thought you said…’
‘Never mind Ian. If you stop drinking now I’ll go home with you tonight and maybe you’ll be able to remember enough to write something for Friday.’
‘Betty I’m shocked!’
‘I could never do that to Don!’
‘Oh, fuck it!’ she said, and then she left. My flask was empty.
The rest of what I know about that night I learned through detective work when I woke up. My phone told me I called a taxi at 10.45pm – which means I had managed to get myself into that state in about three and a half hours – and the carnage in my kitchen told me I made a fish finger sandwich when I got home. The rest of it might as well have happened during the dark ages. And anyone who was in the Oh Yeah Music Centre last Saturday for the Katie And The Carnival single launch, and happened to notice the drunk guy, knows that more of this is true than you would first think.
You can listen to the single here: Went To The Fair. It’s really good.
Bonus tip: Check out Betty…
[Editor's Note: January.]
…in X-Men First Class. It is, well, first class.