It started with a private Facebook message sent at 20:09 on March 22. Although we’ve regularly messaged since we stopped living together, this particular message from Slish included the following lines:
‘i would like to see you soon my dear, are you free ths Sunday perhaps? i have some boy trouble thats troubling me.
So today, we went to Frock Me! at Chelsea Old Town Hall. On the bus there, I get a text. Turns out I have a new answerphone message and a missed call from Slish. I ring her and she says where she is waiting and that her dad is also there, which I was not expecting. Arriving at the coffee shop, I feel like Michael Aspel considering the surprise on Crazy Yank’s face (he was expecting Slish’s other friend with the same name.) He gets up, gives me a kiss on the cheek and a hug and tells me I look thin.* Slish gets up and gives me a hug. I sit down. We chat, catching up on each other’s lives for the next 10 minutes or so although we know most of each other’s news as Crazy Yank had also recently e-mailed me and I’d of course replied.
Afterwards, we walk a little down the King’s Road, another kiss on the cheek and hug goodbye and a (slightly) bemused Crazy Yank departs. Soon after, as we walk to a nearby cash point, I ask Slish if she wants to spill her guts to me then, during the vintage clothes fair or afterwards. She starts to offload and thankfully, it’s the usual early teen awkward-boy-situation-where-friends-get-too-involved-scenario. I advise as much as I can not once but several times during the afternoon.
Once inside Chelsea Old Town Hall, we walk from stall to stall, mesmerised by the seemingly endless trinkets, array of patterned clothes and striking characters with every step. She buys two necklaces and I grow balls the size of raisins to “haggle” by asking: ‘Would you consider taking anything less than £18?’ for an oversized sky blue Burberry tartan shirt. (I pay £15).
We creep up the King’s Road, buying semi-identical lunches at Marks and Spencer before sitting among the stub-legged pigeons opposite the Saatchi Gallery. She fills me in on further teen angst although thankfully it is that of her friends. A lot of it is shocking although sadly not unexpected for a group of well-educated girls and boys growing up in London. She then asks me if I still eat toast out of a bowl. ‘Why didn’t you just use a plate?’ she asks. ‘ ‘Because I liked the bowls,’ I reply. It seems the memory still annoys her as much as the action did itself.
*I’ve always been lean but turns out I’m a little underweight. I also recently learnt at the doctors after having blood tests that I am low on Vitamin D. The doctor advised I take supplements and said how it’s not uncommon considering the long winter we’ve just had. Although, of course, it could be a delayed reaction to having inhabited a bedroom with no windows for such a long time. I did not mention this to the doctor or to Crazy Yank and Slish today. I just hope it doesn’t turn into full-blown Rickets.