“Thank you,” says Tarquin. “I’m… very grateful, Becky.” He comes forward and pecks me on the cheek, and I pat him awkwardly on the hand. And as he disappears out of the door, I find myself hoping that he’ll get lucky at this party, and find someone. He really does deserve it.
As I hear Suze’s car drive away, I wander into the kitchen and make a cup of tea, wondering what to do for the rest of the afternoon. I was half-planning to do some more work on my self-help book. But my other alternative is to watch Manhattan, which Suze taped last night, and would be really useful research for my trip. Because after all, I need to be well prepared.
I can always work on the book when I get back from New York. Exactly.
I’m just happily putting the video into the machine when the phone rings.
“Oh, hello,” says a girl’s voice. “Sorry to disturb you. Is that Becky Bloomwood, by any chance?”
“Yes,” I say, reaching for the remote control.
“This is Sally,” says the girl. “I’m the new secretary at Morning Coffee. We met the other day.”
“Oh. Erm… yes!” I wrinkle my brow, trying to remember.
“We just wanted to check on which hotel you’re staying at in New York, in case we need to contact you urgently.”
“I’ll be at the Four Seasons.”
“Four… Seasons,” says Sally carefully. “Excellent.”
“Do you think they might want me to do a report from New York or something?” I ask excitedly. That would be so cool! A special report from New York!
“Maybe,” says Sally. “And that’s with a Mr… Luke Brandon?”
“For how many nights?”
“Erm… thirteen? Fourteen? I’m not sure.” I’m squinting at the telly, wondering if I’ve gone too far back. Surely they don’t show that Walker’s crisps ad anymore?
“And are you staying in a room or a suite?”
“I think it’s a suite. I could find out…”
“No, don’t worry,” says Sally pleasantly. “Well, I won’t trouble you anymore. Enjoy your trip.”
“Thanks!” I say, just as I find the start of the film. “I’m sure we will!”
The phone goes dead, and I walk over to the sofa, frowning slightly. Why did Sally need to know whether I was in a suite? Unless — maybe she was just curious.
But then I forget all about it, as Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue suddenly crashes through the air, and the screen is filled with pictures of Manhattan. I stare at the television, utterly gripped. This is where we’re going! In three days’ time we’ll be there! I just cannot, cannot wait!
34 Copse Road
21 September 2000
Thank you for your letter and good wishes. I am thoroughly enjoying my retirement, thank you.
I am sorry to hear that you are having such difficulties dealing with John Gavin. May I assure you that he is not a heartless android programmed to make your life miserable. If you ever were cast out on the street with nothing but a pair of shoes, I’m sure he would be concerned, rather than “laugh evilly and walk away.”
If you persevere with your good intentions, I’m certain your relationship with him will improve. You have every ability to keep your accounts in check, as long as your resolve remains steady.
I look forward to hearing how you get along.
With very best wishes,
Head Office Preston House 354 Kingsway London WC2 4TH
Ms. Rebecca Bloomwood
4 Burney Rd.
London SW6 8FD
23 September 2000
Dear Rebecca Bloomwood:
Thank you for your letter of 18 September, and I was sorry to hear that our luggage policy has been giving you anxiety attacks and frown lines.
I accept that you may well weigh considerably less than, as you put it, “a fat businessman from Antwerp, stuffing his face full of doughnuts.” Unfortunately Regal Airlines is still unable to increase your luggage allowance beyond the standard 20 kg.
You are welcome to start a petition and to write to Cherie Blair. However, our policy will remain the same.
Please enjoy your flight.
Customer Care Manager
I WAS made to live in America.
We’ve only been here one night, but already I’m completely in love with the place. For a start, our hotel is fantastic — all limestone and marble and amazing high ceilings. We’re staying in an enormous suite overlooking Central Park, with a paneled dressing room and the most incredible bath that fills up in about five seconds. Everything is so grand, and luxurious, and kind of… more. Like last night, after we arrived, Luke suggested a quick nightcap downstairs — and honestly, the martini they brought me was the hugest drink I’ve ever seen. In fact, I nearly couldn’t finish it. (But I managed it in the end. And then I had another one, just because it would have been churlishto refuse.)