I had a surprise visitor this morning when who should turn up on my doorstep but dear old Dorchester. When he was shown into the drawing room, where I was at that time enjoying and very fine Lagavulin single malt, I was immediately struck by his dishevelled and rather unkempt appearance. I have known Dorchester for most of my life and for all that time he has always been the most fastidious of people when it comes to his clothes and general appearance. Personally, I have, until very recently, and under the strict guidance of Dorothy and Angela, ever really given my appearance much of a thought. But for Dorchester, outward appearance has always been very important. So, to see him unshaven and wearing a suit that looked like it had been slept in, left me rather taken aback.
It was obvious even to me that something was very wrong.
Once I had furnished him with a glass of Lagavulin, which he looked like he needed, and sat him by the fire (it’s a large wood burner actually), I just had to inquire what was troubling him. Normally I wouldn’t ask outright like this; it is one of those things that a fellow just doesn’t do. But on this occasion, I felt it was appropriate as it was only too plain that the poor chap was in some distress. So, with a glass of single malt clutched tightly in his hands, Dorchester told me everything.
It seems that Annabelle, his American girlfriend, had sent him an email late yesterday saying that she had decided to remain in the United States and was ending their relationship.
I have to admit that I didn’t know what to say at this point. It is the kind of thing that women do much better than men, the whole empathy what-not. I suppose if I had ever been in the same position I might have been able to offer some words of wisdom or platitudes, but I don’t believe I have ever found myself so low following the end of a relationship. Quite the opposite actually. That is not to say I have not been sad or disappointed, but it was obvious from Dorchester’s whole demeanour that his feelings were far greater than mine have ever been for any particular young lady.
What does one say to a friend in such obvious emotional distress? Whilst it is tempting to suggest that there may be plenty more fish in the sea, or that she wasn’t good enough for him anyway, neither approach seemed quite right just now. I mean, I have to be totally honest and say that I never liked the woman anyway and really do think he is better off without her. But I really didn’t believe that this was the moment to say that. Instead, I settled for refilling his glass.
Relationships can be such a minefield. Personally, I have never really got the hang of the whole dating thing. I have had a few relationships over the years, but none have ever lasted very long. I did once get engaged, but that was more a case of trying to please my parents and was the only way I could get them to stop pestering me. Luckily nothing came of it. My mother was well into her stride making arrangements for the wedding when her and my father died. I ended the relationship pretty quickly after that as there seemed little point continuing when we both knew it was never going to work. I believe she was just as relieved as I was. I won’t name names, but she is now happily married to a Human Rights lawyer with two small children. We still see each other from time to time and have remained good friends.
In Dorchester’s case, he was obviously besotted by Annabelle and her bombshell decision to end things has hit the poor chap pretty hard. But that is very much par for the course with Dorchester. He doesn’t do things by half, especially when it comes to affairs of the heart. He does tend to go diving in head first and has been let down quite badly a few times over the years. But even so, I have never seen him quite so upset as he was this morning. I would have asked Dorothy to help provide some moral support, but she was out auditioning for another stage show, so I was very much on my own, and very much out of my depth.
In the end, I decided that the only practical thing we could do that might take his mind off Annabelle was to make our way to the Club and try a frame or two of snooker. I suppose that there may have been better ways of handling the situation, but to be honest I was hoping that some of the other chaps might be able to offer some help and advice. As it turns out, the Club was practically empty, with just a small group of the old guard dozing in the far corner. Needless to say, we didn’t stay long, just long enough for a couple of drinks. We then made our way to one of Dorchester’s favourite bars in the West End where we met with a group of his friends from the City. I am ashamed to admit that I was quite relieved as I was able to make my excuses and leave him in their capable hands.
I didn’t return to the Club but made my way home instead. I was quite shaken up by the whole experience I can tell you. I am not very comfortable dealing with other people’s emotional issues. It is probably down to the way I was brought up, but I have never been very good at coping with distress or upset. I remember as a child how disappointed my father would be if I ever started to cry. Whilst mother was much more understanding and would often get upset herself, I never once saw my father cry, not even at my grandma’s funeral. Well, we are what we are and nothing is going to change that.