My dad introduced me to G. She came to Tamworth from Manchester. If you've grown up in the Midlands it's tempting, but wrong, to see southern types as inherently more sophisticated. She might have suffered from dyslexia, but she was so much cleverer and kinder than her snooty rivals that it was hard not to fall for her. I thought of myself as well informed; still she managed to teach me a lot about feminism and politics and world affairs. After I went off to college I still saw her there fairly often. As often happens with studious girls, she got better looking as she got older.
Once I graduated I could afford to see her a lot more, but this growing familiarity made the first signs of trouble all the more obvious. One day we were in the cornershop, about to go out somewhere together, and I glanced at her with the usual warmth—only for her to answer my interest by saying something so thoughtless, so spiteful and silly that I walked out right then, leaving her behind.
That's when things started getting complicated. We both moved to London separately. As soon as I arrived I had my head turned by a much younger metropolitan type. I'd pick G up occasionally and have breakfast or lunch with her, but she wasn't first choice any more. Even when we spent whole weekends together it was never the same. I didn't change, but she did, very much for the worse—especially after she started hanging out with her gossipy little celebrity-loving friend. She wanted to have her cake and eat it: cultivate an educated front, while still drivelling on about junk TV and fashion and crystal healing.
By the time I moved to Cambridge she'd become seriously kooky. Sure, she could pass for coherent a lot of the time, but she'd taken up with an awful crowd of fuzzy thinkers, conspiracy theorists, extremists, and mystic bullshitters. I wouldn't have minded so much if she'd left the hocus-pocus to them, but then she started spouting the same kind irrational opinions they did. When I encountered her—as inevitably I did from time to time, going about town—I'd look at her briefly and walk away. I didn't want to be seen with her any more.
The truth is, I don't want anything more to do with you.