Verity’s idea of a surprise: turning up at 10 o’clock with instructions for me to get changed into jogging gear while she fiddled with the phone, followed by taking me to the gym she goes to for a yoga class. I suppose it could have been worse – when she said ‘jogging gear’, I was a bit worried that she wanted me to go jogging. Not that she’d have joined me, in that case, whereas the yoga class had Verity absolutely in her element. I would probably have enjoyed the yoga itself but for Verity next to me constantly hissing “What do you think of him?”and pointing to one of the four men who were also in the class.
“Verity, I’m married!” I told her after the third hiss.
“So?” She raised her eyebrows archly. “Can’t you be friends with a man?”
A look from the teacher shut her up until the class finished although on the drive home she returned to her theme.
“You can’t just sit festering alone at home waiting for your husband to deign to return and keep you company,” she told me. “Look at me – I’m hardly ever at home. Does it bother my husband?”
I refrained from pointing out that our two husbands are very different men with very different expectations from their wives. It would just be a waste of breath. Instead, I promised Verity that I would try to get out and meet some other people. She meanwhile headed into London to see some musical with a theatrical group of friends; I say ‘some musical’ rather than naming it because Verity couldn’t remember what it was either – but then she’s not really going for the show.
I whizzed round the house with the vacuum cleaner and had just fixed myself a sandwich for lunch when the doorbell rang. It was Delyth, the woman from next door. I’ve seen her occasionally, but she’s got a full-time job so our paths don’t exactly cross. Christmas cards, the occasional nod as we put the bins out, that sort of thing.
“I’m really sorry to bother you, but is your electricity on?” she asked when I opened the door.
I flicked the switch for the porch light which promptly illuminated.
“Damn, must just be us,” she said. “I don’t suppose I could pop in for a cuppa, could I, and borrow your phone?”
There seemed little point in saying no; it wasn’t as if my sandwich was going to spoil while I put the kettle on.
“Ooh, cheese and pickle on wholemeal, haven’t had that for ages,” she said, making herself comfortable in the kitchen before I could invite her to sit down anywhere else. “I’ll just have that cuppa first and then I’ll phone Nigel, see if he can remember who our electricity supplier is.”
Reaching for two mugs, I wondered just how rude it would be to eat my sandwich in front of Delyth without offering her one. By the time I’d put the coffee in each mug, I realised it would be impossible for me to even pick the wretched thing up, and Delyth had now (rather pointedly) seen it so I couldn’t even leave it on the side and eat it later. “Would you like a sandwich as well?” I finally asked, probably coming across rather lamely.
“You’re a star,” Delyth said. “Two sugars in my coffee. You haven’t got skimmed milk, have you?”
Just as I handed her the plate, she suddenly leapt up from the kitchen table and dashed out of the front door without a word. I could hear her shouting at someone in the street, though, and positioned myself near a window so I could see what had motivated her to move quite so quickly. Given Delyth’s general shape and size, I couldn’t imagine her sprinting away from food like that unless Alan Rickman or someone similar were to appear at the door. Alas, it was just a delivery van for someone down the road.
“Damn!” said Delyth again. “I thought it might be the washing machine chap that I was waiting in for. I’d better leave a note on my front door in case I miss him. What’s your phone number?”
You can see where this is going, I’m quite sure. What with coffee, sandwiches, an absence of delivery man until 4.30 and Nigel’s inability to remember not only which electricity supplier they used but where he might have put any paperwork that would enable Delyth to find out, I was blessed with her company for almost the entire afternoon. I suppose there are worse ways of spending time than with harmless hungry neighbours, but it meant I got no further housework done and no further in the accounts for the newsletter.
The really painful bit came when Delyth said, “Of course, I knew I could count on you being in. I mean, you’re always in, aren’t you?”
Ouch. Is that what everyone thinks? Maybe I do need to take Verity’s advice and get out more.
Still no answer on Deirdre’s number. Tomorrow I am definitely going round to have a word with her.