I take Freddie aside with the intention of asking him if the dashing Sebastian is gay. We drift towards the exit. I’m still trying to form the question when we draw level with a slim young man with tightly curling hair and a pink complexion. I’d seen him looking at me a couple of times in the course of the evening, but had thought nothing of it. Freddie introduces him as Nick. At the same moment, Sam comes over.
It’s an awkward foursome. I’m trying too hard (standard); Nick is blushing for England (I soon learn, also standard); Freddie is addressing Sam as Sam (not his real name); Sam is looking confused. I’m trying to get Freddie to shut up. Nick is now also looking confused, probably by the fact that Sam appears not to know his own name. In the midst of this, I learn that Nick is doing a PhD at Oxford.
‘Oh,’ I say, ‘which college?’
He tells me. It’s round the corner from where I was; I say as much.
‘What’s the PhD in?’
Trying too hard.
He blushes for no ostensible reason. ‘Theology.’
‘Oh! I had a couple of really good friends who read Theology.’
So? And anyway, it was one friend, Claire, and it was a BA and, still, so?
Then we’ll see each other there.
‘Nice to meet you,’ I say, smiling.
‘You too,’ he says, blushing once again.
And that’s how we met.