(Continued from Change of Heart)
Olly makes space for me on the bench. In the middle of the table are a sad-looking succulent and a pepper mill.
‘That’s not a happy plant,’ I say. It must have seen me coming. ‘Maybe it needs pepper?’
He glances at the pepper mill. ‘Do you know who makes the best pepper mills?’
‘No – who?’
‘Peugeot,’ he says.
‘As in – ‘
‘The car manufacturers, yep.’ He picks up the mill and turns it over. Engraved on the base is the word ‘PEUGEOT’. He grinds some pepper onto his hand and shows it to me, before sprinkling it over the plant.
I smile. ‘I’ll have to come back next week and see how it’s doing.’
There’s a pause.
‘When is there dancing again?’ he asks.
I list some dates, none of which he can make.
‘You see,’ he says, ‘I’m not based in London, I live in Edinburgh.’
Long distance works.
He tells me all about his job, by the end of which we are both thoroughly bored. There’s another, longer pause.
‘What do you do?’ he asks.
I keep it brief. He starts listening to the conversation happening to my left. I find an excuse to leave.