Cock Robin

I realise there’s not been much of an update on the Caffè Nero soap opera for a while.

In all honesty, it’s been pretty quiet: Porridge-Loving Pensioner is long gone, sadly. I suspect he might have been carted off to an Old People’s Home and I doubt we’ll ever see him again.

Weepy Widower Peter is still moping around and is even more forlorn than usual, after being dumped by his wholly-unsuitable love interest. Peter spends a lot of time lamenting his lost love, banging his fist on the table and saying, ‘I’ve been a damn fool.’

I don’t like to tell him that the 30-year age gap might have been a problem.

IMG_6288

‘Back in the day, I was Cock Robin,’ he told me. ‘I had a 50 inch chest and 18in biceps.’

Peter believes that the reason for being dumped is that his love interest already has a boyfriend, who according to Peter is a controlling psychopath.

‘He’s a bad bastard,’ Pete told me. ‘I can sniff out a rotter a mile away.

‘The problem is she’s being controlled by that man. All these women are. I know because I watched a programme on Panorama about it.’

In the background, Loopy Linda is still stomping around, tutting at small children and falling out with Peter (‘he’s a petulant child’). She has also developed a fixation with the fact I’m from Lancashire, where she spends a lot of time dealing her antiques.

IMG_0157

Yesterday, she came up to me and said, ‘I was in Last Drop Village yesterday and I thought of you.’

I stared blankly at her for a moment as she stood smiling at me intently, awaiting some acknowledgement of this.

‘Ah, Last Drop Village,’ I said, weakly. ‘I only know it vaguely.’

‘Well, it was a complete dump,’ she said savagely and turned on her heel.

Enter Mad Malcolm stage left, resplendent in his best suit. Malcolm has been schmoozing with a younger woman, who he sips lattes with. I think this is a bit dodgy, given that he has an ailing wife cooped up at home.

‘Malcolm thinks he’s the oracle,’ observed Peter bitterly. ‘He rocks up in his flashy overcoat. It’s all one big ego trip for him. He just wants the attention.’

I’ve developed a bit of a fixation myself… with Ginger Colin Firth, who I’ve renamed ‘Frazzled Firth’.

Frazzled Firth is usually in Nero at the weekend, attempting – and failing miserably – to control his two sticky-fingered children who seem to spend most of their Saturday morning hurling bits of cake at him.

Meanwhile, his glamour puss wife breezes around in the background, with perfectly blow dried hair and ruby red lips.

I also vaguely know Firth from the gym. He’s part of a crew of men who do a rowing session at 6am, including previous blog stars, Big Grey Man and – perversely – my old Nero nemesis… Legs!

Yesterday, Firth was sat with his head in his hands on the sofa, while his two unruly children were using him as a human punchbag.

Glamour Puss Wife was hovering somewhere in the background, perfectly made-up as ever. She dropped off a tray of coffees and muffins, and then went and sat on the other side of the room to enjoy a civilised coffee with her friend!

‘You look like you’ve got your hands full,’ I said to Frazzled Firth.

‘Tell me about it,’ said Firth, wearily.

‘Our house it too small, the kids are hard work and I’m trying to get my business off the ground.’

I looked up to see the Glamour Puss Wife shooting daggers at me.

Peter told me that Firth’s wife is a high-maintenance career woman who leaves all the child care to him. Their marriage, he claims, is being held together by a thread. Blimey!

But back to Peter. After his latest love disaster, he’s back on the prowl. Sometimes, he dines alone in his favourite Italian, looking for people to talk to.

photo 1-17

‘You’d think dating at my age would be easy but it’s more complicated than ever,’ he sighs.

‘The thing is I’m just looking for friendship.’

He gives a wink.

‘Well, that’s what I tell them,’ he says, adopting a suggestive tone.

‘But never say never!’

‘Hey,’ he suddenly says. ‘You won’t tell anyone about any of this, will you?’

‘Of course not!’ I say, innocently.

‘I mean, who would I tell?’

Saga Sagas

I have a new friend at Caffè Nero. His name is Cecil and he’s 87. My quota of octogenarian acquaintances may soon outgrow my dwindling band of ‘normal’ friends. I’m not sure how worried I should be.

Cecil comes into Nero on a Saturday. Like all the other lonely souls, what he really wants is someone to talk to. He moved to Leeds from the East End in the war and lived in a back-to-back in Harehills. He used to travel to school on the tram for a ha’penny but he was too poor to afford a cap.

I’ve yet to snap a candid picture of Cecil but to put you in the picture, he’s a cross between Patrick Stewart and a kindly wizard.

Cecil is entirely pleasant company. If I’m being honest, I’m beginning to grow a bit weary of my other coffee shop friend Peter and his constant carousel of desperate dates.

Pushing 80 himself, widower Peter is still pursuing the entirely unsuitable 50-something year old business woman, who not only has a partner already but appears to be stringing poor Pete along. I’ve tried to point this out to him but he seems completely blinded by love. Never a fool like an old fool and all that.

photo-333

I mentioned such concerns to fellow Nero regular Linda the other day (former miserly, seen here uncharacteristically shrouded in fur, who’s actually turned out to be surprisingly friendly).

She nodded along sagely, before stating: ‘Peter is a petulant child. Like all men, he’s completely self-obsessed and selfish.’

I haven’t been able to look at Peter in the same light since. I saw him on Saturday and he regaled me with his usual tales of myriad dinner dates, Italian holidays and trips to the opera, while simultaneously dabbing wet eyes about his deceased wife and lamenting how lonely his life is. I couldn’t help but think, perhaps Peter is a bit selfish?

Peter concluded the conversation by telling me about his weight training and the dumb bells he’s been lifting at home.

‘However, I hear you’re very fit,’ he said. ‘You’ve been spotted at the gym.’

‘By who?’ I said.

‘Colin Firth!’ he said.

(Colin Firth is a harassed-looking dad, who brings his kids into Neros on a Saturday, usually leaving a trail of biscuit crumbs and destruction in his wake. Don’t be fooled by the name either: he’s a less attractive, ginger version of his Hollywood doppelgänger)

I’m assuming Firth meant ‘fit’ as in healthy, not the ‘phwoar’ sense. But still, I find the idea of frazzled-father Firth and petulant Peter having such a conversation about me a little unnerving – not least because all I really do at the gym is flap around on the cross-trainer for half an hour.

Peter also seems to have turned on another Nero oldie: Malcolm (dotty old Majorca fan).

‘Malcolm isn’t happy that I’m been getting on well with Bridget,’ said Peter.

(Bridget being another wholly unsuitable love interest)

‘He keeps coming over and standing right next to us, puffing out his chest like a peacock. I’ve had to tell him to push off.’

photo 2-16

‘Anyway, you’re on half term next week,’ continued Peter. You’ll be able to see all this for yourself!’

Perhaps it’s time to retreat to Starbucks.

Getting Shady With The Ladies

It’s Saturday morning and the perfect chance to catch up with Peter, my weepy 70-year-old coffee shop pal who’s looking for love.

photo 1-17

Peter’s love life is now so complicated that even I’m struggling to keep up. Despite claiming to be a one-woman man (he was devoted to beloved Brenda for 50 years), he seems to have at least five women now on the go. That’s a lot of irons in the fire.

Here’s our Graham with a quick reminder: there’s ‘Gates’ – a woman who lives near by (who opens her gates as a signal that he’s allowed in for a bottle of Lidl Prosecco), there’s a nurse he’s got his eye on in Nero (she has nice legs, old Pete doesn’t miss a trick), a council woman he tried to ask out but rebuffed him (he won’t ask again!); another widower with an interest in ballroom dancing (‘work in progress’).

But the woman who has really stolen his heart is a local business woman, who is so affectionate she practically ‘mauls’ him. Problem is, this business woman already has a partner. Peter’s head tells him to ‘get out now’, but his heart’s telling him otherwise.

I’m worried this won’t end well for emotionally-fragile Pete.

To further complicate matters, it turns out Peter has a love rival: Shady Kevin. Shady Kevin is another fixture on the Nero scene: a perma-tanned, grizzle-haired property developer with an eye for the ladies. He might be generously described as a silver fox but I think he looks shifty – and Peter agrees.

‘I may be in the kindergarten when it comes to women but when it comes to men I’m all there,’ said Peter. ‘There’s a saying we had in the car business: ‘no-one can lift my leg’.

‘I don’t trust Shady Kevin one bit. He sits in the corner watching my every move.’

‘If he was a horse, I wouldn’t ride him and if he was a dog, I’d have him muzzled!’

Malcolm, on the other hand, seems to be getting a bit bothersome in his old age. A hand-written letter arrived from him at my workplace, thanking me for the olive oil I bought him in Mallorca back in August. I’m a little alarmed by this, as I don’t recall telling him where I worked.

photo 2-16

Luckily, the heat’s off because Peter tells me that Malcolm’s developed a small fixation with a woman called Bridget (stern-looking school m’am with bobbed hair; takes no prisoners). However, Bridget has a crush on ‘Colin Firth’ (a married father-of-two with Hollywood looks, who makes her heart ‘beat furiously’). Introduce Shady Kevin into this mix, who apparently fancies Bridget…  and poor Malcolm doesn’t stand a chance.

And if this wasn’t enough characters to add to this ever-evolving soap opera, let me introduce you to one more: Leery Len.

photo-319

Leery Len is part of the late afternoon Nero crew (a whole new group of oddities, separate to the morning pensioner parade we’ve come to love and know). Leery Len is one of those highly-irritating people, who talks in a really loud voice so that every conversation is like one big stage show for those unfortunate enough to be around him.

This boombastic bozo meets with his friend religiously at 5pm every evening and spends a lot of time complaining bitterly about his perpetually-complicated love life, namely ‘idiotic’ women who don’t return his calls.

He also makes loud, border-line misogynist comments about women in his vicinity such as, ‘My oh my, she’s stunning and look at her legs!’

Occasionally, he bellows silly statements across to me such as, ‘I don’t know how you cope with that machine (my laptop) – I once signed up to email and got hundreds of the blasted things!’ and, ‘Do you think I should join Facebook? What’s the difference between Facebook and Twitter?’

Have you ever tried to explain the difference between Facebook and Twitter to a technologically-challenged buffoon? It’s harder than you think.

One final new Nero character who deserves a mention is Note Woman. Note Woman apparently delivers hand-written notes to people sat drinking their coffee. The notes are all steeped in paranoia, saying things like, ‘Do not trust the man you are talking to.’

I haven’t actually met Note Woman yet; she might even be an urban myth.

But I’m already looking forward to the day a crazed-looking pensioner sidles over and drops a note in my lap saying: ‘Do not trust that shifty man in the corner with the grey hair and suspicious tan….

‘Get him MUZZLED.’

Love’s Labour’s Lost

The over-60s social scene at Caffè Nero continues to provide hours of entertainment and guess who’s in the thick of it…

Former regular Porridge-Loving Pensioner, once part of the fixtures and fittings, is now long gone, last seen shuffling off towards the local boozer.

Following ‘flowersgate‘ (in which he threw a bunch of flowers at Legs for refusing to take him to the hospital), there was another awkward showdown over some suits and shirts Malcolm had brought in for him (apparently Malcolm wanted some money for them but PLP kept making excuses). He hasn’t been sighted since.

photo-313
And Legs (scantily-clad nemesis vying for the attentions of Peter, Malcolm et al.) is STILL wearing shorts despite an average autumn temperature of 8 degrees.
photo-312
But coffee-shop staple Linda, formerly lampooned as a miserly retiree, is now my NBF!

Peter told me that Linda is a very shrewd antique dealer, who doesn’t take any prisoners. From what I’ve seen, I’d be inclined to agree. She used to regard me with suspicion as I chewed the fat with Peter and Malcolm.

photo 2-14
Then one day, I ended up in a three-way conversation with Linda and Peter and she seemed to grudgingly accept me.

Later, Peter told me that po-faced Linda is a naturally suspicious person but he said that now I’d cracked the ice, I’d be accepted.

‘Her bark is worse than he bite,’ he said.

He wasn’t wrong. The next day, Linda came charging over to me in a harried fashion, muttering something about her new iPad not working. I’m not sure what she wanted me to do so I smiled sympathetically as she patted me arm before charging off.

photo 1-15
The following week a most extraordinary offer from the former miserly: she quite randomly offered me a pair of shoes!

Apparently, she had bought some beautiful brogues many years ago that she couldn’t wear due to a problem with her foot and wondered if I’d like them.

I had to break the news to her that I have freakishly large feet (details here) so I wouldn’t be able to shoehorn my trotters into them. On news of this, she simply patted me on the arm again and charged off.

After his intense interest in our trip to Mallorca this summer, Malcolm went a bit quiet for a while. Peter told me that someone had insinuated to poor Malcolm that he was a bit of a pest. He had naturally upset him and he’d been sipping his cappuccino in solitude.

That all changed this week when Malcolm shuffled over in his fedora and asked if he could sit with me. We had a bit of a chat about his days in the Air Force in Egypt.

photo-314

Malcolm has a wife who is virtually house-bound. His trip to Caffè Nero is his only trip out of the house all day.

‘If I didn’t have this, I might go potty,’ he said.

‘There was a woman with grey hair who I used to see every day heading to the Co-Op,’ he mused.

‘She told me that she only reasons she went shopping every day was that it was the only human contact she would have.

‘It’s not much fun getting old,’ he added, gazing contemplatively out of the window.

Fellow oldie Peter continues to regale me with tales of grief from deceased wife Brenda (there was a bit more sobbing the other day) while juggling the complexities of dating. The old devil has a potential three women on the go!

photo (1)

According to Peter, the dating rules aren’t much different for the over-60s than they are for teenagers. There’s a lot of text games going on.

One woman, I’ve nicknamed ‘Gates’,  is game-playing to the extreme. Peter has to drive past her house in the evening and if the gates are open, he’s allowed in. If the gates are shut, it’s a Marks and Spencer’s meal for one back at home.

Peter keeps assuring me that he doesn’t want a replacement for Brenda, just some company. ‘Il companionata‘, as they say.

‘Linda says when it comes to dating, I’m not even in the junior school; I’m still in kindergarten,’ he said, wistfully.

But it seems Gates locked Peter out too many times because he’s now interested in someone else altogether – who he met right here in Caffè Nero.

‘My heart’s now elsewhere,’ said Peter, who only appears to converse in metaphors. ‘I never imagined anything after Brenda but lightning has struck and it’s like a bolt.

‘It’s a very complicated situation,’ he went on. ‘You’d think it would get easier in my twilight years but there’s a lot of emotional baggage.’

‘Don’t get in too deep,’ I said sagely.

‘It’s too late,’ lamented Peter. ‘My nostrils are only just out of the water.’

Legs Eleven

I was once the doyenne of my local Caffè Nero, attracting the attention of a plethora of wrinkly retirees. Not any more. Now I have a new competitor in town who goes by the name of LEGS.

I’d never even heard of Legs this time last month. But there she is, batting her eyelashes at the oldies, driving Porridge-Loving Pensioner to hospital, and holding court with the morning regulars (Peter, Malcolm and co,) – while they all listen to her every word in rapt admiration.

photo 3-10

The woman can do no wrong.

According to a Peter (wet-eyed widow who gave Legs her namesake due to the fact that her well-toned pins are always on display), Legs is an amazing person: she’s studying for a doctorate in Sport Science or something, she’s a ‘strong and independent’ W-O-M-A-N (cue Beyonce soundtrack), she went travelling the world on her own; she’s probably about to make a breakthrough in finding a cure for cancer.

Apparently, her penchant for skimpy shorts and scanty vest tops merely masks her true wonderfulness. Even miserly retiree Linda is spellbound.

photo 2-12

‘Never judge a book by its cover,’ says Peter.

Our resident do-gooder isn’t called a Legs for nothing. She really does wear shorts every single day, rain or shine. I tell a lie: I might have spotted a pair of stripy leggings the other day. Still, it leaves me often pondering, what does she wear in winter?!

photo 1-12

photo 5-1

Peter came over the other day and said he realises that he’s been neglecting me now that Legs is in town. I didn’t disagree.

Peter attempted to introduce me to Legs in the coffee queue but she merely narrowed her eyes and smiled unconvincingly, in that slightly competitive way that only girls can fully understand.

Luckily for me, I have an ace card up my sleeve: I’m going to Mallorca in a week or so and Malcolm is still hellbent on imparting every last drop of knowledge he has on his favourite holiday destination.

photo-286

Not content with passing on all of his literature, he has now taken to recommending restaurants, the type of wine we should buy, and the places we should visit. He even had a recommendation on the local brandy.

Malcolm pottered in the other morning and made a beeline straight for me (bypassing Legs. Ha!).

I was sat in the window (which had angered Adrian The Academic who likes to sit in that particular window seat while he’s studying quantum mechanics and reading up on complex geometry – more on him another time).

‘I’ve barely been able to sleep for worry that you might not know how to get from Palma to Orient,’ said Malcolm.

I nodded in what I hoped was a suitably ‘I’ve-been-concerned-too’ manner, while looking up from one of Malcolm’s Mallorca books. I carry one around in my bag and then scramble to get it out and bury my head in it when I see him approaching.

‘There’s two routes, you see,’ he went on. ‘And I’m worried you might take the wrong one.’

An hour later, and following some very laborious directions, I reassured Malcolm that yes, I now knew the correct way to Orient and yes, I would stop at that quaint little village en route, and yes, I would try some tapas at that little taverna he loves so much.

I’m half expecting Malcolm to come in with an actual hour-by-hour itinerary for our holiday next week.

Porridge-Loving Pensioner, meanwhile, has been all but BANNED from Caffè Nero. That’s not strictly true; the manageress told him that unless he stop pestering people to give him a lift to the hospital and then getting irate when they refuse, he won’t be allowed back. PLP took umbrage at this and has now GONE ROGUE.

photo-285

He occasionally shuffles around grinning toothlessly at people but has taken to frequenting other eateries in the area. I saw him quite contentedly tucking into a large bowl of fries in the bar next door, bits of grease splattering his stained suit. The porridge days are over.

I went into Caffè Nero avec husband this weekend and who should be standing in the queue happily conversing with Peter but my nemesis Legs.

photo 4-7

‘That’s her!’ I said to the husband.

‘Who?!’ said gormless husband.

‘Leggssss!’ I hissed.

The husband studied her for some time, legs and all.

‘She’s actually a very attractive woman,’ he said.

Broken Flowers

Who needs Coronation Street when you can enjoy a real-life soap opera at Caffè Nero?

Last week, I popped in for my usual latte to find Nero’s perma-fixture Porridge-Loving Pensioner remonstrating angrily with a scantily-clad woman, before throwing a bunch of flowers at her and stomping off.

Let me backtrack slightly.

Porridge-Loving Pensioner first appeared on the Nero scene about a year ago, pitching up at 7.30am, scoffing mounds of porridge all day and gazing mournfully out of the window, before departing at closing time by taxi.

He oscillates between being a curmudgeonly octogenarian, who guards his seat in the corner like a rattle snake, to acting out a scene from Wether’s Originals, handing out sweets to the kids and generously splashing out on coffees and milkshakes to all and sundry.

photo-159

More recently though, he’s regressed to being a bit of an awkward old bugger. Fellow Nero stalwart and Mallorca-mad retiree Malcolm recently brought him a suit and told him he needed to ‘smarten himself up’. I’m not sure he liked it.

photo-280

And when I chatted to another retiree-at-large, Peter, he told me he’s been giving Porridge-Loving Pensioner a wide berth.

“I’ve got enough dependents as it is,’ said Peter, who was recently widowed from his sweetheart Brenda but still takes care of his mother. ‘Take it from me once you open the door, it just opens wider.’

‘Legs always talks to him,’ he went on.

“Who’s ‘Legs’?’ I asked.

‘You don’t know Legs?’ exclaimed Peter. ‘She’s always in here. Beautiful girl, got a degree in sport or something. ALWAYS wears shorts.’

‘Of course, Malcolm always makes a beeline for her!’

‘I bet!’ I said.

I’d never come across Legs before but when I walked in and saw Porridge-Loving Pensioner in a heated debate with a girl in very short shorts, I just knew it had to be Legs.

I’ve had to remove her face for reasons of anonymity (but you can see how she gets her namesake).

photo-282

It transpired that Legs had got Too Involved with Porridge-Loving Pensioner – to the point of actually driving him to his hospital appointment the day before. Porridge-Loving Pensioner then wanted her to drive him more places.

When she said she couldn’t, Porridge-Loving Pensioner got very angry indeed.

Peter was right: when you open the door, it does get wider.

The argument ended with Legs giving the flowers back to Porridge-Loving Pensioner and marching out.

When Malcolm and Peter arrived for their morning coffee, I quickly filled them in. Porridge-Loving Pensioner was stomping around furiously in the background.

photo 3-9

‘I can’t believe Legs actually drove him to the hospital,’ I said.

‘She’s a very pretty girl but I wished she’d get dressed when she came in,’ muttered Peter.

‘If you’ve got it flaunt it by all means, but there is a stopping point.’

Suddenly, Porridge-Loving Pensioner appeared, brandishing the wilting flowers.

‘These are for you,’ he said, looming over me and grabbing my cheek. ‘I wondered if you’d take me to the hospital.’

I looked at the hand-me-down flowers and then took a look at his letter. The appointment was for September 1.

That was quite a while off. But my experience of old people is they gradually become obsessed by hospital appointments. Their lives revolve around them.

‘I can’t take you because I’m at work that day,’ I said, quite truthfully. ‘I’m sorry.’

‘The best thing to do,’ I added firmly. ‘Is to call the hospital and ask them to send a car for you. They often do a chaperone service.’

Porridge-Loving Pensioner threw the flowers down and shuffled off.

photo 2-11

Malcolm and Peter looked aghast.

‘You handled that very well,’ said Peter.

It was only after the furore had settled down that we noticed Porridge-Loving Pensioner was finally wearing Malcolm’s suit! Malcolm confessed he’d been giving him a selection of shirts too.

photo 4-6

‘What he really wants is company,’ I said.

‘We all do,’ said Peter. ‘We all want someone to talk to. The Italians have a name for it.’

‘Enjoy life while you can,’ added Malcolm. ‘One day, all you’ll have is memories.’

‘It’s true,’ said Peter sadly. ‘But when you’ve lost someone, the wound is so great that even memories can’t fill it.’

The Emperor’s New Suit

Crazy scenes at my local Caffè Nero last week… It all began as I was enjoying a mid-morning coffee in the sun, in the midst of ‘unofficial pensioners’ club’.

Unofficial pensioners’ club is basically an organic gathering of local retirees. It mainly consists of previous blog stars: Malcolm (Majorca-obsessed, snappily-dressed ex-businessman, who keeps making a bee-line for me); Peter (friendly former body-building weepy-widow, still grieving the loss of his beloved Brenda); Richard aka Porridge-Loving Pensioner (decrepit war veteran, sits wistfully in window, newly-discovered penchant for Jackie Collins novels); Linda, aka one of The Miserleys (a sharp-tongued, child-hating antique dealer, who I have very little dealings with).

photo-162 photo-24

photo-265 photo-23

… and then me – the honorary member!

Enter Malcolm, stage right. Malcolm pottered past me carrying a suit bag – and headed in the direction of Porridge-Loving Pensioner. It emerged that he had – bizarrely – bought Porridge-Loving Pensioner a new suit!

Suit dispatched, Malcolm came to join me in the sunshine.

photo-269

‘How are the Mallorca plans coming along?’ he said, taking a sip of his black coffee.

‘Very well,’ I said. ‘I’ve been reading your books and feel like I’ve got a really handle on the island.’ (lie!)

Suddenly, Porridge-Loving Pensioner hobbled over and loomed in.

photo-268

‘Can I get you a coffee, my friend?’ he rasped.

‘No coffee,’ said Malcolm. ‘But what I do want to see is you wearing that suit I’ve bought you…

‘You’ll never get a woman looking like that!’

‘The only woman I want is this one,’ said Porridge-Loving Pensioner, leaning and grabbing my cheek, as I tried not to recoil.

To be fair, Porridge-Loving Pensioner does seem to have a standard outfit of tatty leather jacket and grubby shirt. But he’s 87! One day we’ll all be old with bits of food and dribble crusted on our clothes.

Porridge-Loving Pensioner muttered something about possibly wearing the suit to a hospital appointment next week, before hobbling back to his perch in the window.

‘I can’t believe you’ve got him a suit!’ I exclaimed to Malcolm.

‘He’s such a scruff-bag,’ said Malcolm, who I think has delusions of being the man from Del Monte. ‘I thought it might help to smarten himself up.’

‘Well that’s very, er, kind,’ I said.

The next day, I entered Caffè Nero – eager to see whether Porridge-Loving Pensioner would be sitting resplendent in his new suit.

But he was crumpled in the corner sans suit.

photo-267

It might have been my imagination but he seemed even more dishevelled than normal. I gave him a wave.

Just as I was settling down with my latte, Peter arrived.

photo-270  photo-272

‘Yesterday,’ he whispered in my ear. ‘You looked stunning,’

The old devil!

‘Malcolm’s bought Richard a suit!’ I said.

‘I know,’ said Peter. ‘I don’t know why he gets so involved.

‘Once you open the door, it just opens wider.’

‘Very true,’ I said.

‘I’ve got enough dependents,’ Peter continued.

‘I was saying to Malcolm yesterday how beautiful you are.’

‘Malcolm said, ‘Pete, she’d not just beautiful on the outside, she’s beautiful on the inside too’.’

Peter gave me a wink.

‘Don’t tell the husband,’ he whispered.

And with that, he ambled off with his coffee.