“Hello. Damian?”
“That's right.”
“Hi, Damian. It's Ollie.”
“Oh. Hello, Olivia. Goodness. It's been a long time. I haven't seen you since… since that night you threw my Palm Pilot in the Thames.”
“Did I do that? Are you sure? I think I knocked you and it slipped out of your hand.”
“Yeah. Maybe. How are you anyway?”
“Oh I'm fine. Fine.”
“Still seeing Stig?”
“Y'know, Stig. The guy at SOAS with the flat in Camden.”
“Oh him. Nooo. That finished ages ago. You really haven't been in touch much, have you?”
“You told me 'you really didn't want me to be around you, confusing you', because all the stuff with Stig was 'doing your head in'”
“Did I?”
“Well you wrote it actually. On a Post-It Note.”
“I can't believe I wrote that. What happened to you anyway? We always used to do so much stuff together.”
“Together with rooms full of other people.”
“What about that night we went to the Almeida?”
“With Stig and Charlie.”
“Yeah, the drummer in that indie band. 'Flump' I think they were called.”
“Oh Chas. I wonder what happened to him.”
“You slept with him and Stig broke his nose.”
“But I wasn't seeing Stig then. I was trying to make you jealous.”
“Bedding Charlie 'no visible means of support' Latham was intended to make me jealous? You slept with someone else in the hope that it would make me want to sleep with you?”
“That's a rather crude way of putting it.”
“You certainly made me envious.”
“Yeah. Jealousy is 'I wish she was with me instead of him'; Envy is 'I wish I could find a woman with bad enough taste to overlook my manifest deficiencies, like Chas has'.”
“We went to that pub in Putney together.”
“And you left with that rugger bugger who groped you on your way out of the Ladies.”
“You could have asked me out. Why didn't you ever ask me out?”
“I did, Olivia. And you said 'no'. Three times.”
Three times?”
“Well, four, perhaps. Do you think I should count your telling me to 'just fuck off, okay?'”
“Damian! You always have to be so confrontational about everything. Look, I was only ringing to ask if you wanted to meet up with me and the gang again.”
“'The gang'? Do you think their tiny imaginations could stretch to my being part of their 'gang'? I was one of that minority of your 'friends' in a paying job, yet I always seemed to have less disposable income than any of them. They all had shelves full of Lonely Planet books; I came from somewhere too nasty for them to go 'travelling'.”
“What? Birmingham?”
“In a way, yes.”
“Look. I'm having a party next week. Just let me know if you'd like to come. It's Friday evening.”
“Is it your thirtysomethingth birthday party by any chance?”
“Oh! You remembered!”
“I didn't actually; it was just an intuition.”
“Well? Will you be there to watch me blow the candles out?”
“Can't make it, Ollie, luv.”
“Why not?”
“That night I'm washing my hair.”