He’s sitting alone, feet up on a chair, reading what looks like the free copy of Country Life which turns up at the office every week, because once upon a time we put an ad in there and they forgot to take us off the mailing list.
Which, as greetings go, would be fine, if I’d said it in a vaguely normal voice. But instead I plump for something between Darth Vader and Voldemort.
He looks up and smiles. ‘Hello.’
I pick myself up off the floor and saunter (sexy, huh?) over to the microwave – which is in use. I unclip the lid of my Tupperware (one day that will be a euphemism) and start assembling my soon to be melted cheese and pesto sandwich. A quick blitz – twenty seconds max – is all that’s needed to turn it into a gooey cheesy slice of deliciousness. That’s the plan anyhow.
‘How is the fantastical world of data?’ Tristan says.
‘Oh fantastic.’ I laugh. ‘I try not to mention the data thing, in social situations – I go with Marketing instead.’
The microwave comes free. I set the timer to one minute.
He lowers his magazine. ‘Oh! I remember telling a girl what I did once…’
Would that be before or after you met Holly, and I don’t suppose you and she have broken up?!
‘… and she thought it was really cool! She said it was her dream to work in this industry!’
I laugh. ‘I hope you didn’t disillusion her!’
‘No, I told her about the chocolate fountains…’
I don’t recall what the guy says next because at this point he gets up – it gets better – and walks over to where I’m standing beside the bins… and drops his sandwich wrapper into the recyclable waste. My sandwich meanwhile is achieving something close to nuclear fission in the microwave.
He sits back down. I hear footsteps approaching and my heart sinks. It’s probably Gus or Ryan or, worse, a woman. But it’s a stranger. Tristan is back to leafing through Country Life. I’m trying to think of something to say and settle on the first thing that comes to mind: the phone conversation I’ve just had with my brother. He’s decided, for reasons I can’t begin to understand, if they even exist at all, on a restaurant in Notting Hill as the venue for his birthday festivities.
‘Is it somewhere he knows?’
‘Nope, never been before.’ I laugh. ‘And all the guests live either East or South! It doesn’t make any sense!’
He smiles. ‘Let me guess – you live west.’
I look mock-offended, then laugh. ‘Says the guy who reads the ‘free’ copy of Country Life every week!’
He laughs. ‘Harsh words.’
I smile, and cut my oil and basil leaf sandwich in two.