I shrug. ‘No power. As in, we had a power cut.’
‘Oh God! Of course, you live… don’t tell me….’
He scans the memory files.
‘Yes! And you’re…’
I scan the blog files.
‘… Hampton Court?’
‘Wow, yes, wow! Impressive!’
I can feel myself blushing. ‘Ditto.’
‘Yeah but you’ve remembered, like… the place. Wow.’
I look for a subject change. ‘This is Beatrice.’
They shake hands.
‘This is Tom,’ he says, gesturing towards his friend.
We make small talk. Conversation reverts to the subject of power.
‘At least we were only without it for two days,’ Beatrice says, ‘whereas you – it must have been, what, over a week?!’
‘Five days,’ I say.
‘Fuuuck. What did you do?!’
This from Hampton Court.
I take an unusual line. ‘Well, I don’t know if your brother plays the guitar – or if you even have a brother…’
Fortunately it’s not until we’ve parted company that I remember he does indeed have a brother, so my ignorance is genuine.
‘… but, well, I do, so we errr we had sing-a-longs!’
‘Oh God. That must have been awful!’
Actually it was quite fun, not to mention funny, the four of us – my parents, my brother and I – trying to read the lyrics of ‘Read My Mind’ by one solitary gaslight.
‘Hmm I think, after a few days without power, your threshold for what’s awful falls quite a lot!’ I say, laughing.
HC tells us of the time he went camping, and his neighbours, whom he liked, moved on to be replaced by a family whose fireside mewling sent him to the edge of madness. We joke about campers’ irritating tendency not to stay put for very long.
I laugh. ‘It’s like renting in London!’
HC stares. ‘That’s exactly – it’s like London rentals – I was about to say exactly that!’
(TO BE CONTINUED)