We’re playing ‘Never Have I Ever’. Well, the others are. I’m sipping white wine at random intervals, and getting all sorts of funny looks. I appeal to Sandwich Guy, sitting to my left, for an explanation of the rules.
Somebody makes a statement.
‘So,’ I say, glass in hand, ‘I drink if…?’
Sandwich Guy explains.
‘Oh right – then no.’ I put my glass down.
‘No?’ he says. ‘What about Freddie?’
What do you care? You ditched me for prawn.
‘Oh – no,’ I say.
He looks surprised. ‘What, never?’
‘No, never. Why? Does it look like…?’
‘Well, you’re a natural couple – I mean, you’re obviously great friends.’
He actually said ‘great chums’, but it wouldn’t do to alienate readers.
‘Yes, we are, but – no, we’ve never been involved.’
‘Oh. I just thought – because you’re a natural couple…’
You already said that.
‘Hmmm, well, no.’
‘Sorry,’ he says, ‘people probably say this to you all the time.’
‘No, you’re the first actually.’
The next day, I’m having coffee with Beatrice. I glance at my phone.
‘That’s weird – I’ve got a missed call from Sandwich.’
We’re on first name terms: Beatrice, Sandwich, and I.
‘Oh! Why would he ring you?’ she says.
‘I don’t know. I’ll ring him back in a bit…’
She walks with me back to the flat. We agree that it’ll save us a Skype chat if I ring Sandwich then and there.
‘Hello,’ he says. ‘How are you? How was the rest of your night?’
Small talk ensues.
‘I only rang because…’
It’s a flimsy excuse: he wants to check the date of a dance practice. I thank him for a dinner party he gave earlier in the week.
‘… but I’ll write, of course,’ I finish up.
‘Really no need.’
‘No I will – I like writing!’
He doesn’t know about the blog.
‘I know,’ he says.
But I might have let slip during ‘Never Have I Ever’ that I’ve dabbled in erotic fiction.
He asks where it’s been published. I deflect the question.
‘And anyway, I write under a pseudonym.’
‘Oh – of course. What’s your pseudonym?’
I laugh. Beatrice rolls her eyes.
‘I’ll see you on Thursday then,’ I say.
I hang up.
‘Well?’ she says from the sofa.
‘He wanted to know about dance practices this week.’
‘Why did he need to ring you for that?’
I can’t help smiling.