Friday, 18 June 2010
Head to Soho to meet an old photographer friend. He is working freelance, taking photos of bikes, buildings and biryanis. We have not spoken for several months so we reminisce about the golden days when we worked together in Canary Wharf: getting drunk on food reviews and faking vox pops. He is a true metrosexual - in fact I used to call him my ‘non-gay-gay-friend’ because he wore nice shoes and knew how to accessorise. I know he was the one behind my leaving present – a pretty Ted Baker handbag. Other members of staff would probably have given me some B&Q vouchers and a hearty handshake.
We are laughing with gusto and on our third pint of cloudy Addlestones cider when his new girlfriend arrives. I met her once before, briefly, at a party, but this is the first official meeting. I am painfully aware of how difficult it is for new girlfriends to meet old female friends of their new boyfriends'. How you have to plaster on a smile while they laugh about the old times while you are thinking: ‘Does she fancy him? Does he fancy her? Did they ever fancy each other?' or: 'Please say something that will mean I can join in and say something.’
More than anything I want her to know I am not a threat and I am glad he has met someone who is making him happy.
She sits down at the table.
‘Hello!’ I say, half standing up and sloshing cider on the table in the process. She is smiling, but it is not a real smile.
‘Look at my bruise!’ I say, pointing at the purple bump on my arm that appeared after I fell over in my flip-flops in Naples airport.
As soon as I say it I realise I am trying too hard. I should have just said: 'How are you?'. I am an idiot, an idiot pointing at a bruise, sitting with her boyfriend.
She smiles. I get some more drinks in. There is a brief silence when I bring them back so I point out my earlobe, which has an infection and is bleeding slightly.
I am fairly sure she does not think I am a threat.