Hopeless at relationships

Since Sunday afternoon I have been thinking a great deal about Hope Greenwood. Dorothy has been having her little chats with me, and even Aunt Murdock went out of her way to visit me yesterday afternoon to find out how things went. They are both convinced that there is something of a romantic nature between Hope and me, but I am not sure of Hope’s feelings on the matter.

Yes, we had a great afternoon on Sunday and I learned a lot about Hope’s past and even a little about her hopes for the future, but I remain as uncertain as ever about how she sees me. It doesn’t help that I am not sure of my own feelings. Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely fond of Hope; she has become one of my closest friends. I am just worried that having been single for so long I may not be the best person for her to be in a relationship with. And I am a little concerned about the way that Emily sees me. I would hate to come between them.

But relationships are not the only thing on my mind at the moment. You see, I received a telephone call from Mr Rotherby, my Estate Manager, about some comings and goings on the estate. He tells me he is a little worried about Aunt Sara, although he was somewhat vague over the particulars. He tells me that he has also been approached regarding the sale of part of the estate for a housing development. He knows my feelings on the matter but has asked if I could speak to the gentlemen concerned as they are taking very little notice of him.

So I have decided that I will have to pop along to the old family homestead tomorrow and see for myself what is going on. It might be nice to have a weekend away from the city and I may drop by to see some of the neighbours. I have already told Anne I will be down so she is going to join me for dinner tomorrow night.

 

Sunday Lunch with Hope

Last week invited Hope to join me yesterday for one of Mrs Kaczka’s renowned Sunday roasts. I have eaten roast diners in many respected and very fine establishments, but I have yet to find any that can compare to Mrs Kaczka’s. That woman is a venerable wizard in the kitchen, turning her hand to almost any kind of food with seemingly magical ease. Even Dorothy, who is herself a very good cook and makes the most wonderful Italian dishes, cannot compete when it comes to the traditional Sunday Roast. It may be a simple meal, but I believe that is part of its charm. Many places I visit try to make something special out of it, adding unnecessary frills and tastes, whereas Mrs Kaczka keeps to traditional recipes. For a Polish lady, she has an amazing grasp of traditional English cooking.

The main purpose behind my invitation to lunch was not to show off my housekeeper’s venerable culinary talents, prodigious as they are, but to ensure that, for once, I could count on having her undivided attention in a relaxed atmosphere. You see, I have been in a bit of a quandary over Hope in recent weeks. On one hand, we have a very good friendship, one I have come to appreciate and depend on a great deal and I would not want to spoil it in any way. On the other hand, I can’t help wondering if our relationship might not be heading for something a little more intimate. Dorothy and Aunt Murdock both seem to think that there is something more, but I am not exactly the most experienced chap when it comes to things like that. I am honest enough with myself to admit I am actually quite shy when it comes to the ladies and have never been very good at understanding my own feelings, let alone those of others. So I had hoped that a quiet leam, at home, with just the two of us might help me to find out Hope’s feelings on this particular subject. Exactly how I would achieve this, I had no idea.

Dorothy and Angela were to be out for the day and I was not expecting any other visitors, so everything was set up nicely for Hope’s arrival at 1 o’clock. But, as with all my plans so far this year, it did not work out quite as I expected.

I should have realised things were going slightly off course when Mrs Kaczka came running up to me a little after midday to say that all the power had gone off in the kitchen. Now, I will be the first to admit that dealing with crises involving domestic energy supplies is not one of my particular skills. Although I had a pretty good idea that we could rectify the problem by doing something with the fuses, I had no idea of either where the fuses were, or what I would do if I found them. Arthur always deals with that sort of thing and he was not there. I tried to telephone him but presume he was out with his family as I could not get a reply. At that point, all I could think to do was to call an electrician, but again, Arthur would normally have dealt with that so I had no idea who to contact. With no immediate solution to the power problem, which did seem to be isolated to the ground floor, my next thought was about the lunch itself. Should I try to book a table somewhere so that Hope and I would at least get something to eat and a chance to chat or should I postpone our date until another time?

In the end, I did neither, deciding instead to telephone Hope and see what she thought, which turned out to be the best decision I had made so far that morning. Not only did she calmly undertake to arrange an electrician to visit, she also announced that she would be there very soon and would bring a little something with her. I was so relieved we would still get our afternoon together that I never thought to ask what the “little something” might be.

Once this had been arranged I felt there was little point in Mrs Kaczka staying any longer as it was obvious to me that she would not be doing any further cooking. So I told her that once she had cleared up she could go home as I returned to my study to wait for Hope to arrive.

A little before 1 o’clock the doorbell rang but instead of greeting Hope at the door, who should be stood there looking for all the world like he had slept in a hedge for a week but my old chum Dasher. He had that look on his face I had last seen when Dorchester told me that Annabelle, his American girlfriend, had left him. Now, I knew Dasher didn’t have a current inamorata so I was rather taken aback when he announced, there and then, on my doorstep, that he was heartbroken, he had been rejected by the love of his life and could never love again! Of course, I had to invite the poor chap inside, even though it was actually the last thing I wanted to do. Once I had managed to steer him into the study and poured a shot of brandy down him, my thoughts returned to Hope, how it was beginning to look like my plans had completely fallen apart, and through no fault of my own.

Dasher explained to me that he had met a certain young lady at one of the casino’s he regularly visits a couple of weeks ago and they had formed an intimate bond almost immediately. When I asked why he had not mentioned her on any of our recent meetings, he said that she had asked to keep their relationship a secret for the time being. Being totally besotted as he obviously was, he did not think to question the lady’s motives for this and had proceeded to fall head over heels. Everything seemed to be going well until last night when, out with friends at a party somewhere in the West End, he saw his new paramour on the arms of another man. Well, to cut a long story short, it seems that his new love was married. Dasher was just a fling for her, hence her desire to keep the whole thing a secret. It a sounded very sordid, more like a bad film plot or one of those books women read on trains than real life. I felt really sorry for the poor chap, but what could I do to help? Hope was due any minute, the electrician would be there at some point and Dorothy wasn’t around to come to my rescue – she would know exactly what to do and say in this kind of situation.

Well, as I am sure you can imagine, after all of this the afternoon was not the one I had planned. Hope arrived just ahead of the electrician a little after quarter past one. The power problem was repaired in no time at all. Apparently, all we had needed to do was “trip the switch” – whatever that means. So we now had power back.

Hope’s “little something” turned out to be a sort of picnic. She had been quite confident that the power issue would be resolved so she had brought with her a couple of prepared meals that she had already made for Charlotte. She had planned to heat up in the microwave but I don’t have one, or if I do we couldn’t find it, so she had to use the oven instead. This actually gave us a little time to see if we could sort out Dasher and, hopefully, send him on his way. But, like everything else at the moment, that was a forlorn hope and it began to look like Dasher was going to be with us for the rest of the afternoon. Hope was actually really good with him. She seemed to know all the right things to say and I think that having a woman talking to him seemed to help. The silver lining came when she suggested he go upstairs and try to get a little sleep. He readily agreed to this, leaving Hope and me to enjoy the meals she had prepared. The food itself was very tasty, but Charlotte is a vegetarian, so it was not what I am used to at all. That said though, I found the flavours very interesting, although I could not tell you what my meal actually was.

Despite everything, we had a jolly good afternoon together. We talked about our friends and our lives, about our ambitions and hopes for the future. As always I was captivated by her smile and the way her face seemed to light up when she laughed. I have always found Hope very easy to talk to and found myself opening up more than I had planned to about my problems with my father, my love for my mother, and my anxieties about taking over the family business from my Aunt Murdock. Of course, Hope knows the old Mad Duck very well, so knows of her recent illness and is as worried as I am about her general state of health. Hope was equally as candid about her relationships with her late husband and her two daughters. I think she has coped amazingly well with the loss and becoming a single mother. Obviously, Emily has her own life to lead, but Charlotte was heartbroken by her father’s sudden death and has struggled to come to terms with it. I have to say that in all my dealings with Charlotte I have found her to be a very strong and determined young lady.

By the time Dasher rejoined us a little after 5 o’clock I have to admit that I had quite forgotten he was there. He was full of apologies for gatecrashing our afternoon and for being such a mess. Of course, we both said there was nothing to apologise for and Hope even busied herself in the kitchen preparing the poor chap something to eat. In the end, the three of us stayed in the lounge and chatted about all kinds of things, but avoiding any mention of relationships, girlfriends or anything else we thought might upset him.

Dasher eventually left about eight, Hope shortly after. This was not the afternoon I had planned but I suppose, the way things have gone lately it was probably the best I could hope for. At least we had had a couple of hours to chat and relax which I am very pleased about. Whether or not I understand our relationship any better I simply could not say, but I do know Hope much better than I did.

I had thought I might pop down to the Club, but decided against it. I had had quite a busy day and decided that the best thing to do was to relax with a single malt.

Guns, Valentine’s and Sunday Lunch!

Yesterday evening at the Club the conversation was all about one thing – the dreadful shooting in America that left so many young people dead or injured. I know that a lot has already been said and written about this appaling incident, so I am not going to add much more to the debate, except to say that even those of the chaps who own and regularly shoot guns think that something needs to be done to end all this pointless waste of life.

The gun totting side of the debate will undoubtedly continue to claim their right to bear arms is enshrined in the constitution, but what about the innocents that find themselves the targets of these madmen and cowards? What of their right to freedom from the fear of being shot on the way to school?

And yes, I did say cowards. It is hardly the act of a brave man to open fire on unarmed members of the public. And it seems that the perpetrator of this latest outrage was a very troubled soul, the last person in the world who should have been in possession of weapons of any kind. Of course, if these poor students had been brought down by anything other than bullets there would be immediate calls for either the cause to be outlawed, any faults corrected or for tighter restrictions. But we all know that so long as the damage is inflicted by the seemingly sacred gun.

As I said, the chaps at the Club were unanimous in their condemnation of a regime that continues to condone such mindless slaughter in the name of the object they revere above all others.

Talk at the bar meandered around for a little before finally settling on thoughts of the other big event of the week – Valentine’s Day. On this particular subject, there was anything but unanimity. Some of the younger chaps were all in favour of the modern approach of wining and dining the young ladies, along with an abundance of flowers and far too much chocolate. One or two of the married gentlemen admitted that they had forgotten all about it and their better halves had given them hell over it.

The main problem I have with Valentine’s Day is the expectation that there is something special about the day, which, of course, there isn’t. Far too much is made of the whole thing in my view. And I was pleased to discover that a good few of my drinking chums feel the same way. I have never sent flowers to anyone on Valentine’s Day and I am not going to start now.

This afternoon I made a quick call to Hope at her gallery and she has agreed to join me for Sunday lunch here at chez Dimbelby. Hopefully, this will give us a real opportunity to chat. I am still concerned about how things went with Emily and I am hoping that some light can be shed on the matter. I am also popping down to the country on Monday and I wanted to see her before I left. In fact, I am considering arranging a visit for my birthday in April and may invite Hope and Charlotte to join me. Dorothy thinks I should arrange some kind of party, but I am not sure and anyway, it is probably getting a little late to organise something like that. I will ask hope what she thinks over our Sunday lunch.

Nigel called around a little earlier this evening, but he didn’t stay for long. I have not seen a great deal of him recently. It seems his new business venture is taking up a lot of his time. That and his romance with my Aunt Sarah. He seems to think I don’t know about it, but I believe that it is one of the worst-kept secrets in the family at the moment. I wish he would just come out and announce that they are a couple, then we could all relax around them and celebrate their relationship. I do not understand why he can’t just be honest with me. Maybe he will in bis own time.

A pleasant evening with friends, old and new

Dinner parties with strangers are a little like a leap into the unknown. One never knows quite what to expect. When Hope asked me to be her partner at this little soiree hosted by a couple of her old school friends I immediately accepted but did have my reservations. After all, I had no idea where we were going, who we would be with, or if we would have anything in common. As it turns out I need not have worried; we actually had a really fun evening.

The big surprise of the evening was discovering that although I did not know our hosts, I was already acquainted with the other guests, Richard and Lianna Bardon-Willis. I knew Dickie from College, he was one of the members of our little debating society; Lianna was one of the young ladies we used to drink with. They became a couple in our last year which was no surprise to anyone. We didn’t really keep in touch a great deal afterwards, but our paths have crossed on several occasions over the intervening years. Seeing them there was such a jolly nice surprise and made the whole affair much more pleasant.

Before I say I anything else I really do have to compliment our hosts – Charles and Helen – for the most amazing meal. A delicious Salmon and Prawn Taurine, Lamb so tender it virtually melted in the mouth, and a truly refreshing Lemon Sorbet to finish. All served with a perfect selection of wine which flowed just as freely as the conversation.

Our hosts seemed to know just the right things to say to keep things chugging along. I had not met them before, but they seemed to know a little about me. Apparently, Charles has some business interests that have brought him into contact with my Aunt Murdock, and my father before her. I don’t know exactly what he does, but it seems to involve property development in some way. Dickie, on the other hand, is in banking and has been since we left college, all those years ago.

The one rather strange thing about the evening was that Hope and I were the only two single people there. Although we have known each other for quite a while, our friendship is actually fairly new. For many years Hope was just someone I knew of but had very little direct contact with beyond family gatherings and social events. Over the past few months though I feel we have become very good friends and I am really rather fond of her. As the drink and conversation continued to flow, more than once I found myself watching her as she laughed, noticing,  not for the first time, that she has a couple of crooked teeth which I found strangely alluring A number of my friends and acquaintances have spent a great deal of time and money on having such things repaired, but there is something about these slight imperfections that I find more attractive and genuine. To my mind, all this tinkering with ones’ looks is often counterproductive. There is nothing so unnatural as a woman of a certain age relying on surgery and drugs to keep her looking like a 20-year-old. There are far too many women of my acquaintance whos looks owe more to a surgeons knife than their own efforts or lifestyle.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times when plastic surgery and like are necessary, but the obsession some people have over tinkering with their own bodies I find quite frightening. I would never consider going under the knife for anything unless it was truly necessary. And I am pleased to see that Hope is not one of those who feel they need to hide their natural look.

I must say we all had a jolly good evening and I was a little disappointed when it came time to take our leave. Charles and Helen were wonderful hosts, it was good to see Dickie and Lianne again, Hope was her usual charming self, and I do believe I did or said nothing to embarrass myself, which is always a bonus.

Arthur collected Hope and me a little before midnight. During the drive back to her house, I asked Hope about Emily and what she thought I had done to offend her. I could tell she was a little reluctant to talk about it, but I eventually persuaded her to tell me.  According to Hope, Emily has worked on a number of cases that have involved one or another of the companies my business is linked with, and her experiences have not been very good. This revelation came as something of a shock to me and I promised Hope that I would look into whatever it was that Emily felt was wrong.

Personally, I am not totally convinced that her business dealings are the whole story, but I am happy to leave things there for now. Undoubtedly we will have other opportunities to clear the air and discuss whatever issues Emily feels she may have with me.

One of the many things that were discussed last night, all be it rather briefly, was Valentine’s Day. Now I am not one for all this sentimental flim-flam so I was rather surprised to hear that both couples were planning something special for today. I found the whole conversation rather embarrassing as, being the two singles at the table, there seemed to be some expectation that Hope and I would be doing something romantic today. Of course, we aren’t and I had to admit to not having given the day a moment’s thought. Thankfully the conversations moved on to other things fairly rapidly.

Why is it that married couples can’t seem to stop themselves interfering with the relationships of their single friends? Well, I for one do not appreciate that kind of thing, no matter well-meaning the plotters may be. As I said, things moved on very quickly so the whole subject was soon forgotten, but I was reminded of it this morning when Dorothy and Angela joined me for a late breakfast. Apparently, there had been flowers, cards and gifts aplenty and they soon turned their attention to me. But not for long. I very quickly appraised them of my view that the whole thing was just another event designed to make as much money as possible out of people. The price that restaurants and clubs charge for tables on Valentine’s Day is almost obscene and as far as I am concerned it is all a complete waste of time and money. As I see it, one should not wait until 14th February to let one’s feelings be known to our loved ones.

My plan for this evening is for a few drinks at the Club and game or two of snooker with not a piece of chocolate or a rose in sight.

 

A busy weekend

The weather may be absolutely appaling, but there is a ray of sunshine on the horizon, for me at least.

Thursday’s lunch with the Greenwood’s did not go the way I had hoped. Emily’s antipathy towards me was as surprising as it was unexplained. I do understand that we will obviously have some very different perspectives on the world, but I did not expect that I would have to spend the afternoon defending my position on what are, in reality, very minor points. I hate to think what would have happened if we had been discussing religion.

Anyway, yesterday afternoon I received a telephone call from Hope apologising for Emily’s behaviour over lunch. It seems that she has been having personal problems, something to do with her relationship with her current boyfriend. According to Hope, she was an absolute horror all week and had fallen out with Charlotte over something a nothing. She says they will both let out a huge sigh of relief when she returns to Manchester this evening.

So, during our brief chat, Hope asked me to join her on Tuesday evening. She has been invited to a dinner party at the home of an old school friend and wondered if I would like to join her. Of course, I said yes, even though I do not know the hosts or any of the other guests. Generally speaking, I would try to avoid such events as I find them to be tedious and embarrassing, but I am sure that it will not be anything like that. I just hope that they are not all arty types; that is one thing that would make the evening very difficult. Art is not my thing and attempting to keep up a dialogue on the subject, particularly with total strangers, can be very taxing. But I am sure we will have a wonderful evening.

Yesterday I invited Dorothy and Angela out for the evening. They are both very fond of jazz music so I decided I would treat them to an evening at a jazz bar that one of the chaps at the Club had recommended. It is not really my thing, but I was happy to sample the atmosphere and the food, which I had heard was very good. And I have to admit that I actually found the music quite pleasant. I would not go so far as to say I enjoyed it, but I didn’t find it as unpleasant as I had imagined it might be. As for the food, that turned out to be everything I was told it would be. Dorothy and Angela seemed to enjoy the combination and we had a very jolly time. In fact, it was actually quite late by the time we got home and I was feeling just a little tipsy. I may have had one or two single malts more than I should have, but if one can’t enjoy yourself when you are out with friends, when can one?

I have had a rather quiet day today spent mainly with the girls. I had originally planned to spend the afternoon at the Club, reading the newspapers and sharing a drink or two with some of my chums. But when I awoke this morning I was feeling a little delicate so decided that in the end I would just stay at home and relax which turned out to have been a very good decision. Shortly after lunch, I received a visit from young Nigel. Normally he is a very confident young man, very sure of himself and his decisions, but today I saw a very different side of him. Over drinks in the lounge, Nigel confided in me that he was becoming very serious with a particular young lady and wanted my advice. Why he came to me I really don’t know. My history with the ladies hardly marks me out as any kind of expert where romance is concerned. I actually find the idea of talking about these things very uncomfortable. I never know the right thing to say. So, I did the best thing I could think of, I called for Dorothy and Angela.

Nigel made me promise not to say anything to anyone about our little chat so I will leave it there for now. Suffice to say that I was not totally surprised by his revelations, only by his indecision. I think that we all have times when the road ahead seems unclear and need the guidance of others to help us find the correct path. I just hope that things work out for him.

I will be on my way to the Club shortly for a few drinks and a light supper. I had invited Nigel to join me but he declined as he had a previous engagement elsewhere. I just hope that the snow stays away.

There is Hope for the year yet!

I have to say that I am very glad to see the back of January. There have been a few good moments but by and large, it has been rather dreadful. I spent the beginning of this week confined to bed with an awful cold. I felt truly dreadful and didn’t have the strength to do anything more than shuffle between my bed and the lounge. Mrs Kaczka fed me some dreadful concoction that she claimed was some kind of miracle cure she picked up recently from one of her friends down at this club she goes to every Thursday. It is some kind of meeting place for Easter European ladies, but if this particular concoction is anything to go by it probably has more to do with witchcraft than needlecraft.

But that said, I did feel much better by Wednesday evening when I managed to make my way to the CLub for a drink or two. Which was actually quite fortuitous as my old chum Dasher happened to be there too. I haven’t seen very much of him of late and it was jolly good to have the opportunity to have a quiet chat and catch up. It seems that over the past few weeks the old rogue has been visiting an old flame of his at her home in the South of France. They were quite an item when we were all much younger but she had married some rich American and moved to Texas. It would appear that there had been some communication between them after the American’s untimely demise last year and the old flame has been well and truly relit. I have to say I had no idea about any of this going on. Dasher is obviously much better at keeping secrets than I had realised. Of course, I knew he had been away a lot more than usual and has often been distracted, missing parties and such.

And I must say that the widowed Mrs Marshall is quite a catch. The last time I saw heer was at some social event about three or four years ago and she hardly looked any older than when she flew out to the States twenty years ago. Some say it is all down to plastic surgery, but I couldn’t possibly comment. All I do know is that Dasher is as captivated by her now as he was all those years ago. I just hope that this time she doesn’t let him down.

When he asked about my own love life, I had to admit that there wasn’t much to say. Although I initially brushed off his enquiry, on further questioning I did own up to having feelings for a certain lady of my acquaintance. Whilst I didn’t want to say too much, he very soon seemed to cotton on to who I was talking about.

Taking of which, yesterday I received a call from Hope to rearrange our lunch date. As we were both free today I made my way down to the Kings Road a little before 1 o’clock to pick her up and take her to a very cosy little place I know close to the river. They specialise in French cuisine but it is rather good and the service first rate. They keep a wonderful selection of wines and they do a truly mouthwatering Ribeye.  I was actually surprised she hadn’t been there before being quite close to her gallery.

The combination of great food, excellent wine and such charming company ensured that the afternoon fairly raced by. One thing I have noticed about Hope is how animated she gets when she talks about either of her two great passions, art and her daughters. Obviously, I already know Charlotte fairly well, but I have yet to meet her eldest, Emily. I have to say that I was quite smitten by her smile as she enthused about Charlotte and Emily’s successes in their chosen fields, but from what she says, the two girls are is different as chalk and cheese. Whilst Charlotte takes after her mother with her artistic skills, Emily is much more serious and has apparently never shown any aptitude for the arts. Much like myself really. I mean, I know a good piece of art when I see it, but I don’t get this modern stuff at all. Hope says that I just need to learn to understand what I am seeing, but I am not so sure.

During our conversation, I asked her about her about Simon. I have to admit I was a little nervous about mentioning him as I was not sure whether I wanted to hear what she had to say or not. As it turns out I need not have worried. There was nothing of a romantic nature between them. Yes, he had used his undoubted charm to try to woo her away with him, but she told me he was not her type at all. He was just convenient for a lift and as for the lunch date, that was actually a business meeting as he had some items he thought she might be able to sell for him. I have to say that I was quite relieved to hear this.

Anyway, we didn’t leave the brasserie until almost 4 o’clock, by which time Hope was running late for a prior engagement with some friends so we went our separate ways, but not before we had secured a date for dinner next Tuesday evening. I had hoped we could get together at some point over the weekend but it seems she has a lot of work to do and some people to see, so next week it is. Truth be told I am just happy to have settled the Simon affair and got through the date without making a fool of myself.

I am going to head off to the Club now for Friday night drinkies with the chaps. Cambridge tells me that they have recently acquired a couple of bottles of some very fine Chambertin Grand Cru Pinot Noir that I really must try.

An end to the special relationship

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.