‘Did I tell you I spoke to Germany?’
Gus looks round. ‘No – no you didn’t.’
‘No.’ I laugh. ‘I know I didn’t. Well, I did, and I wanted to say thank you, cos your advice really helped. Do you remember the advice you gave me?’
‘You said I’d need to be assertive – or maybe it was something else, a word ending in ‘ient’… not subservient…’
Gus is probably mentally filing for a move of desk.
‘… anyway, I can’t remember what the word was, but I thought of what you said when I was talking to him and it really helped. Because he – he did push quite hard for keeping doing the non-committal thing, but I said no. No. And that was all because of you!’
Gus bites his lip. ‘That’s – that’s quite a weight to bear….’
I laugh. ‘Can you take it?’
‘… but I think you did the right thing.’
‘Oh but I haven’t told you the punchline.’
He looks pretty engaged for 7pm on a Thursday. ‘What’s the punchline?’
‘So, we’d got to the end of the conversation and I thought we were figuring out a way to say goodbye without it being, y’know, sad, and there’s a pause, and then he says – what do you think he says?’
‘What does he say?’
‘There’s a pause, and then he says, ‘I’m moving back to London’.’
Gus is such a good audience.
‘Exactly – ‘what?’ And he said ‘early next year’ – he’s got a new job – here. And I was thinking like, but, well, we’ve just – but that doesn’t actually change any of what we’ve just talked about, I mean, the fact is, he’s still not in love with me. That’s what he said – that’s why he doesn’t want to take the plunge, so to speak, and his moving back here wouldn’t change that.’
‘But arguably,’ I say, frowning, ‘it’s easier to be in love with someone when you’re in the same city – is it?’
‘Yes, probably. It’s not very romantic to say it, but it probably is easier.’
‘Yes, because you’re seeing them more, and things remind you of them all the time…’
And you’re probably getting laid on a regular basis, which can’t hurt.
‘Wow, that’s really good!’
‘I know! I don’t know myself! It’s entirely uncharacteristic. Of course, one hopes that by staying silent he’s gonna realise he’s made a mistake and get back in touch, but, well, that strategy hasn’t worked so far!’
‘N-o, but, what you need to do…’
We’re interrupted. Something called work beckons, even at 7.15pm on a Thursday, and I don’t get a chance to revisit the subject before it’s time for Gus to leave. But I’m sure as hell gonna find out what it is that I need to do.