he says as he opens the door, and I’m glad he makes the first move because I’ve never been one for leading. I keep in step and hit back with a
and he returns with a
How Are You?
and I tell him I am happy, positively happy, and now I’m in the hallway of his house with its cream carpet and phone and mirror and I give a smile to show him how lovely I think it is and then I say
How Are You?
and he tells me he is fine, absolutely fine, and we’re both mighty pleased at this because we’ve passed the first stage without a hitch. He leads me into the kitchen, and it has tiles and a table and nibbles, a touch of class, with a bowl of crisps and a choice of dips, and I keep smiling and then realise we’ve been standing there for a full minute in silence and I’ve forgotten whose turn it is but he saves the day by saying
What Have You Been Up To Recently?
and I tell him what a brilliant question that is, brilliant, and then I say not much. He smiles back at me but I can tell he’s a bit disappointed with that, so I add
and now he’s really smiling and he tells me what a brilliant question that is, brilliant, and then he says same old same old. I chuckle and he nods and I notice he’s waiting for me to speak, so I have a think and then ask him
Who Are You?
but it seems that’s the wrong thing to say, and he shakes his head and tells me I shouldn’t need to ask that sort of question because I’ve known him for six years, and he’s right about that, definitely right, no doubt about it, and I can see he’s panicking now because we’ve gone out of time, and he says with haste
What Are You Doing Now?
and although I think that’s rather obvious I answer anyway and say I am at your house because you have invited me over and I am holding a bottle of wine for you, and I am, it is in my right hand, and I raise it by the neck and give it to him. That puts us back in rhythm and he takes it with a grin and says of course, fantastic, and he pours out the wine and hands me a glass, and I swill and smell and sip and swallow and go mmm, and he goes mmm as well, and picks up the bottle and reads the label at a tilt. Chateauneuf-du-Pape he says, and it isn’t a question but I say yes, and he says 2001, and I say a good year, and he looks up and we both can’t believe we’ve actually just had a conversation about wine. Then I have a moment of inspiration and ask him
Do You Have Any Plans For The Future?
I can tell he’s impressed because he puts the bottle and glass down, he needs two hands for this, and he opens his palms and says well, and then a small plastic model of a dog wearing a top hat distracts me and I don’t listen to what he says, and when I turn back he’s still talking and about three hours have passed. So, he says, after that I imagine I will probably just die, and I reply everyone has to have plans, and I say it because it’s a universal truth and he nods at this, and then I down the rest of my wine and say I am going to leave now, it has been a lovely evening, and he says
Thank You For Coming
which is ever so polite and I thank him for that, and I take the bottle of wine because it actually tastes quite nice and I want it back. We walk to the door and I’m excited because I know we’re coming to the last stage, and I step outside and turn around, and he says
leaving me with the prestige which is very generous of him, and I clear my throat because this has to be a good one, and I reply, with much gusto,