My bestest oldest friend in the world is staying and it’s heaven. I met Jane at school but we became best friends in the sixth form, bonded by Latin A level and the Polemic and Social Society (a thinly veiled excuse for hanging out down the pub with boys).
I love her to the bottom of my black heart and she is James’ adored godmother. Well, what 12-year old boy wouldn’t love a bad-mouthed barrister who takes him to international rugby matches and buys him kickass rock music?
With Jane I can be totally myself; no need to play ‘nice’, no attempt to impress. When Jane’s around I feel eighteen again; doing the tarot, dancing wildly, talking long into the night about absolutely everything: silly stuff and serious stuff; smart stuff and spiritual stuff.
I owe her so much, in every which way. And I worry about her so much too. I hate that her health isn’t great. I hate that she has to work her socks off and never seems to get a break. I hate that I can’t wave a magic wand and give her what she really needs and craves. I hate that she’s low.
‘You need a spark, a frisson,’ I said.
She nodded. ‘There’s just no joy in anything really. It’s all just so boring and predictable.’
I recognise that feeling. That was me.
‘Don’t you dare give up,’ I said.
She caught my eye. ‘I’m getting old.’
‘Oh for pity’s sake. It’s just beginning. It’s a new chapter.’
She looked doubtful.
‘Oh come on. Let’s believe in miracles.’
So we played the Silly Lottery Game. You know the one – I bet you play it too. It’s the one where we sort out all our friends and family and do our bit for world peace and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Rescue Society and still have enough left over for a few treats.
‘Or northern California.’
‘US road trip!’
‘Then New York for the museums and art galleries and music.’
‘Oooh yes, I never did get to The Cloisters to see the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. People were firing guns so I turned back.’
‘Definitely. And Egypt. We could take James and go down the Nile on a felucca.’
‘Hmm, or a nice cruise ship. What about going to that place we never got to...’
‘That’s the one.’
‘Detour into the desert...’
‘I might need a Landrover.’
‘Nah, you’ll be fine.’
‘Not fat. We’d have spent a month at Viva Mayr first getting fit.’
'Eating spelt rolls?’
‘Absolutely. And doing yoga and swimming in the lake. Where else?’
‘Honk Kong. Japan.’
‘Back to India. A lot more India.'
'No! Not more dodgy ayurvedic massage?'
'Loads more dodgy ayurvedic massage! But I’ve gone off the idea of Peru.’
‘Spiders mainly. Chicken eating spiders and the ones that are so aggressive they run after you to bite you. I think they run faster than I can. It’s a deal breaker.’
She drank another bottle of wine and I had another glass of water. Then we were off again.
Today she goes back to London and I’ll miss her horribly. I’m also going to make damn sure I buy a lottery ticket.