I adore Loraine and her family. Philip’s son and his wife were up from London, because they were unable to get away during the Easter weekend. And as much as Philip looks and acts (minus the casual racism) like Prince Philip, his son looks like a young Prince Charles. Charles and his wife are an absolutely lovely couple, and they’re in their early forties or late thirties (not like I asked). They have a teenage daughter who is looking at Unis. They asked me about Kingston, but I think they were just being polite because much of the conversation was about what college at Cambridge she should apply to. But despite being super, super posh, they’re really laid back and relaxed.
We had bucks fitz with peach snaps in it (or as the posh people call it, Bellinis), although with as much drinking as I’ve done over the last couple of says, I didn’t take more than two sips. There was lots of chat about the big new V&A museum being built. What it was going to do to the city? Whether it would boost housing prices? Maybe Philip and Loraine could sell’up in a few years making a tidy profit? They also talked about the funding going into the project (Prince Charles’ wife – let’s caller her Camilla even though she doesn’t look like her – knows someone, who knows someone, who’s on the Board or some such), and how Scotland’s the prime place at the moment for starting a charity. Lots of money being funnelled into arts and education north of the boarder. Then Loraine joked that perhaps the Agency should become a charity, ‘It practically is already.’
We had poached salmon with spring veg for lunch, and a fruit meringue for pudding – all made by Philip. While we ate, we continued to talk about art, and LadyBohemia regaled us with stories of famous artists she once knew. (Well, everyone at the table except me had heard of these people before, so I’ll just assume they’re famous.) We talked about modern art versus the classics, then questioned ‘what is a “classic” as art is constantly changing?’
We didn’t talk about work (as is often the case when you socialise with people from work), and I didn’t feel like I was at ‘my boss’ house’, which can be quite intimidating. It was all very lovely and civilised, and it was something I really needed after last night. No stress. Just chat.
After dessert, I offered to wash up, but Loraine insisted that I keep her mum company. Charles and Camilla had gone out to meet some friends they knew in the area. LadyBohemia and I retired to the salon. Ha ha, ‘retired to the salon’. Being around posh people is rubbing off on me. I shall rephrase that. ‘LadyBohemia and I sat in the lounge for a chin wag.’
We only walked from the dining room to the hall and into the lounge, but she was kind of out of breath when she sat down. I don’t think she’s been feeling too well lately. Poor old girl, it must be difficult getting older and not being able to move like you used to.
Once she’d settled in, she asked me how things were going with the boyfriend. I said not well, we’d gotten into a fight. But he was going to talk to his wife about getting a divorce. To this LadyBohemia said, ‘They all say that.’
Suddenly, I realised how clichéd it all sounded. My married boyfriend promises me he’s going to divorce his wife, no really he is, I swear.
It’s the sort of thing television movies are made of. I explained that they were already separated. They just needed to finalise the paperwork…and stop living together. Listening to myself talk, I began to question why I came off as the bad guy last night. Fife is married and living with his wife. Then again, I do have a Pete which I concealled from Fife. Maybe both Fife and I are the bad guys.
It was getting dark, and I felt I should leave. I didn’t want to wear out their hospitality, and I had to get home to have ‘the talk’ with Pete. No more putting it off.
Loraine and Philip were in the kitchen putting things away, and as went to look for them to say my ‘good-byes’, I passed a stack of Agency post on a side table in the hallway. It must have come in a package from London, and Loraine left it in a bundle. I picked it up and had a flip through it. Even though we only accept electronic submissions, sometimes people still send written queries. The stack was mostly copies of contracts, invoices and a couple of bills. One of the bills was for a contractor, and there was a red stamp at the top reading, ‘Last Notice’.
This took me back. Loraine seemed like the type who would always pay her bills on time. In fact, don’t we have a finance/accounting company that pays all this? I thought the process worked like this: Loraine approves the invoice, AdminAssit processed everything and sends it over to a finance/accountancy company who pays everything, and at the end of the month it’s all approved by Loraine. She’d never let something go unpaid. And now that I think about it, I haven’t heard anything about the finance/accountancy company in ages, then again I’m not part of all that, so I just assumed everything was ticking away behind the scenes.
I went into the kitchen to say ‘good-bye’. There were hugs and double kisses all around, and I thanked everyone profusely for having me over. It was really nice, and I hope to see Charles and Camilla again.
Before I came up to the flat, I took a deep breath, prepared my break-up speech. I would suggest to Pete that since he’s made so many new friends, I’m sure one of them would take him in. But if he needed a place to crash – just for a week or so until he got something sorted – he could stay here. But no longer. And I’d tell him about Fife.
I got upstairs and everyone was gone. In fairness, the flat was also tidied, no party debre anywhere.
I just remembered, Pete has his Sunday night gig, where he plays guitar in a pub. He must be there, and he may not be home until late. But I’m going to do it! Even if I have to wait up all night to have ‘the talk’ at 4am. I’m going to break up with him. I swear!
One thing to look forward to is having S in the house without Pete. I haven’t felt comfortable telling her about Fife and the whole situation, because she’s such good mates with Pete. I didn’t want to put her in the middle of it. But maybe if he’s not here, I could talk to her about it. Not put her in the middle, or ask her to chose sides, just talk. Lately I’ve kind of felt like I’ve lost my friend, and it’ll be nice to have her back.
In the meantime, I think I’ll Skype D for a pep-talk.