‘Are you free tomorrow between 2 and 4pm?’ My friend texts to ask me. I am intrigued. I make a half-hearted attempt to seem busy and popular, replying, ‘I think I could be, you know, if I moved some things around. How come?’ I wait eagerly for her reply. Most likely, she wants to take me out for an eye-wateringly expensive tea. (I was in Edinburgh on the weekend, and before I got my train on Sunday my friend asked if I’d like to have tea at the Balmoral hotel. ‘What do you get?’ I asked. ‘Oh,’ she replied. ‘Some finger sandwiches, tea, some cakes, you know. Usual stuff.’ ‘Yes,’ I said firmly. ‘That won’t be enough. I always eat excessively before I travel anywhere. You know, just in case. It’s why I can’t go on tour. I’d be enormous.’ My friend politely chose somewhere else for us to eat. And bought me 6 Millie’s Cookies for my journey, which I ate before we had left the station. She was trying, bless her, but ‘excessive eating’ involves a great deal more than 6 over-sized cookies).
My phone buzzes. I lunge across my sofa to get it, already planning an eye-catching yet demure outfit for our tea. (Most likely, jeans and a fascinator. The perfect blend of ‘what? This old thing?’ and ‘yes, I do have a fascinator on my head. Thanks for noticing’). ‘Could you do me a huge favour and let in my sofa tomorrow? They’re coming between 2 and 4pm. Obviously you can say no.’ I am pleased my friend has internalized the ‘Just say No’ campaigns of our childhood. I text back. ‘Of course I can. Drop the keys round before you go to work. I will be in my pajamas.’ (I had decided that the jeans and fascinator combo might be a little much for 8am in the morning. Don’t worry, it’s still in the pipeline. There’s bound to be the perfect occasion just around the corner. Perhaps my little sister’s upcoming graduation ceremony. ‘What? This old thing?’ and ‘Yes, I do have a fascinator on my head. Thanks for noticing. Also very proud of sister’).
My friend dutifully drops her keys off at my place, and politely accepts a Celebration chocolate for breakfast. (All the miniature sweets and chocolates are really cheap now! Because they were bought for Halloween. I equally recommend buying Easter eggs on Easter Monday. It’s what Jesus would have wanted). Later that afternoon, I pop round to her place. She’s got a new mirror, which is lovely, and what might possibly be the world’s largest TV. Obviously I have no idea how to work it, but it looks terribly impressive. I pour myself a glass of wine and settle down to wait for this sofa. My friend emails me. ‘He’s going to be there in 30mins. Here’s his number, in case you want to call him. (I don’t know why but maybe…)’ I am delighted. This whole sofa thing is clearly a ruse. My nice friend is setting me up with the sofa delivery man. I am impressed by the lengths she has gone to, and resolve to take her out to tea. I do wish she’d warned me though. I would have put on my fascinator.