My lovely friend Markus rang me at the end of August. "We are all very bored of your attention-seeking. I'm having an actual proper crisis and I need you to drop everything and come to London for the weekend. I will feed you and water you and take you to an antiques fair. I've painted the sitting room and it's got a pinky undertone not grey. Doing the woodwork and trim in Pointing simply will not work." Now that's a real emergency, so I dropped the bots and dog with Edward and jumped on the next train. Markus made chocolate martinis and we ate plates of delicate Asian fish stew poring over paint chips and fabric samples and moving furniture about till the small hours. Bliss.
The next day was gorgeous so after the antiques fair, we went for lunch in Chiswick. Next to the restaurant was a chalked sign 'Psychic Readings this afternoon only'. Markus' eyes lit up. "Bloody no." I said. "Bloody yes" said he. "Nooooo," I wailed. "It'll be crap and what if she says I'm going to die?" "They can't say that and anyway, she might forsee some good stuff. Come on."
After losing the sort of unseemly scrap we used to indulge in as students, I presented myself to the psychic, a nicely dressed lady called Clarissa. I felt like the bots at the dentist - resentful, afraid and praying it wouldn't hurt too much.
I think when a fortune-teller is faced with a middle-aged woman wearing no rings other than black ones under her eyes, it is fair to make some pretty obvious assumptions. I sat opposite her in an empty room while she shut her eyes and held my hand. She smelled of wine. She urged me to relax. What she said absolutely blew me away.
"You are thinking about your dog and how much you miss her. She is teaching you the real meaning of love and you must let her have as much of your heart as she needs because the more love you give her, the more will come back to you. She's on her favourite hill right at this moment and she is running and happy." I was stunned and tears ran down my face. It's true, her unconditional waggy glee at everything and her head pushing tenderly into my hand night after night have brought me untold comfort.
I was thinking about this today as I nagged the dog to hurry at the end of a walk. I was in heels and velvet coat and late for a meeting at Rose's school. She ran into the woods. I stood on the path and bellowed. When she finally appeared, there was a plastic bag on her back. She ran up to me and rubbed her head delightedly on my coat and into my hand. I pulled off the bag. It had contained, it would appear, a regurgitated Indian. The dog and I were smeared with magenta-coloured, vomit-smelling rice. I put us both in the shower and missed the meeting.
Didn't foresee that though, did you Clarissa?