‘So I’ve got one silly man-related question.’
‘Your email the other day made me smile,’ I begin. She removes her glasses, prepares herself for what is clearly going to be the ‘round the houses’ approach. ‘The one where you said you hoped Gus wasn’t going to get my hopes up.’
‘Yes,’ she says, ‘he sounds dangerous.’
‘No, it’s fine, really.’
[insert long rambling explanation of why it’s fine]
‘But,’ I wind up, ‘well, what I wondered is, if Germany does come back to London – and I know I’m asking you to predict the future here – but if he does come back to London, what are the chances he’ll get in touch?’
There’s a pause.
‘He might get in touch,’ my mother says, slowly. ‘And he might suggest meeting up, but then you’d have to decide if you were happy with things on his terms.’
‘I wouldn’t be. I mean, I don’t know to what extent his ‘terms’ were because we were in different countries, but, if we were in the same city then he’d have to want to make it work or I wouldn’t go there.’
‘And… if he did get in touch and suggest meeting up, then you’d say, what, go for it?’
‘Well, if he gets in touch and you end up… going out, well, then that’s fine… until he meets someone else.’
‘Because,’ I hesitate a moment, ‘I guess the bottom line is, being in the same city wouldn’t make him fancy me more.’
‘Hmm. And… if he did get in touch and we went out or whatever, it would probably end in tears?’
‘Because if he doesn’t fancy me enough to make it work when we’re in different countries, then it wouldn’t work when we’re in the same country.’
There’s another pause.
‘Is there any chance it wouldn’t end in tears?’
‘Hmm. You don’t know that!’
My mother doesn’t say anything.
‘So really,’ I go on, ‘if he did get in touch, then I’d be better off not going there at all, because it would only end in misery.’
‘So you’re saying it would be best not to go there, knowing it would all end in tears?’
‘No, well, I’d go there.’ She looks thoughtful. ‘But I think perhaps you wouldn’t.’