“You’re going to introduce him to everyone? All at once? Are you sure that’s a good idea?” Best Mate looked at me aghast as we wandered around John Lewis one Saturday afternoon. “I mean, isn’t it a bit - well, mean?! I mean, everyone together can be a bit… well, judgy...”
We were talking about the celebration planned for my imminent birthday, and The Northerner’s intended attendance.
“Well, it might be,” I said, watching BM as she picked up and returned to the shelf a coaster with a rooster on it. “But he’d probably meet them all at some point anyway, and frankly I don’t really think I could get away with not inviting him. So long as your brother* behaves himself, it should be fine.” We wandered lustfully past mountains of Le Creuset. “And, er, it’s not as if this’ll be the first time he’s met anyone…”
I tailed off. BM looked up at me from a display of copper-bottomed pans.
“Oh? Who’s he met?”
“Well, it was a total accident…”
As we wandered round the rest of the kitchenware department, I told her how TN and I had been out the previous evening and then gone back to his to curl up on the sofa and watch films (gradually accompanied, it turned out, by an entire complement of flatmates and their various halves).
The following morning, we were wandering along the road outside TN’s front door when we ran into someone.
BM looked at me, faintly horrified, and clearly running a mental list of acquaintances who live in the area. “Was it PolitiGal?”
“Nope,” I said, “I wish it had been. She’d have been far more subtle about the whole thing.”
“Oh no, not…”
“Yup - Hot Flyer Boy.”
TN and I had been on our way to the station, me to trek home, and he to the office (where he delightfully ended up spending the rest of the weekend) when we were accosted by 6' of crumpled, unkempt Hot Flyer Boy in a huge Arran jumper and no hair gel clutching a carton of orange juice and a packet of bacon.
He’d seen me - there was no hiding from him.
“Blonde! Hi!” He kissed me on both cheeks. “What are you doing here? I didn’t think you came south of the river. Oh.”
The penny dropped - visibly - as he looked from me to The Northerner to me, winked, and then stuck out his hand.
“Hi boss, I’m HFB. So, what are you to up to then? Nice day planned?”
“Um, well…” On the back foot, and desperately hoping that HFB wasn’t about to be horribly indiscreet, I ummed and erred.
“Look, I'm going to leave you two to it. Gotta crack on with breakfast.” He brandished the bacon. “But we need to have a drink, Blonde, and er, soon.” He raised an eyebrow. “Though I’m living just round the corner now, so you’ll er, have to pop in for a cuppa at some point. Have a good day, fella.” With which, he wandered off round the corner.
“Oh no!” cringed BM. “I can just see the expression on his face now. Oh well. You’ve got one of the difficult ones out of the way at least.”
“AND without the help of booze,” I mused, “which I believe calls for a celebratory trip to MAC at the very least. I’m not going to get through the next lot without gin and an awful lot of eyeliner.”
*I adore BM’s Little Brother as if he were my own but, love him, he makes his opinions - good, bad or indifferent - known. And how.