As a rule, I do not make a habit of leaving my digs in the centre of town, but my editor had asked me (as a kindness to his friend, Ashley) to settle my hangover south of the river with a prandial discourse. When I arrived, courtesy of an uber machine, at The Canton Arms, my hangover was still raging. However, I was gratified to find a table booked along with the seasonal greeting: a glass of mulled wine and some potted shrimp.
Sitting in the corner, I noticed a rather thin, lugubrious looking fellow with a little whipper snapper of a beast lying at his feet. From time to time he eyed me over the top of the hard boiled tome he was in the middle of. The Politics of the Self, it was called, or something equally grim.
The first to arrive was a big tall chap in horn-rimmed glasses – apologising as he sat down. His partner would be along any minute.
“Are you alright?” I said.
“As a matter of fact,” he replied. “It’s a bit cold outside.”
“Well,” I said, “someone seems to have thought of everything.”
He did not disagree. In fact, we were both settling into the mulled wine when a man in identical horn-rimmed glasses entered cursing the traffic. “I mean, honestly, how long does it take to get across the bloody river in the middle of the day. You wouldn’t believe how much trouble I had finding somewhere to park.”
His voice was rather loud, as was the blue paisley shirt under his coat, and I could not help noticing the lugubrious fellow in the corner of the room eyeing him suspiciously.
“I am so sorry I am late, Jeffrey,” he said, stretching his hand across the table to me. “My name is Peter. This is my writing partner… I see you’ve already met Paul.”