Company: Kirt and Lucinda, who completed masters in eighteenth century literature a year ago.
Location: Lucinda and boyfriend Marcus’s new flat in Fulham.
Drinks: Pink cava.
A friend, Evi, has been pointing out recently that the turning of the weather marks a year in the search for direction. ‘At least now is better than last year.’ She says.
It’s Friday night and I’m heading out for dinner. A friend from university has just moved to London. She’s studying law, and she lives with her boyfriend Marcus, and they have a ground floor flat in Fulham with wooden floors and a garden. And she’s holding a dinner party.
I go into Tesco on the way to the tube and buy a bottle of pink cava, with some thought that this is the correct thing to do.
‘Would you like a drink?’ Lucinda asks once I’ve arrived. She and another friend from university, Kirt, are sitting on identical leather sofas. They’re already drinking pink cava.
‘Thank you,’ I say, ‘I bought some pink cava too.’
They are talking about jobs. ‘How are you?’ Kirt asks, ‘I don’t think I’ve seen you since the spring.’
I begin to tell Kirt about my new job teaching A level at a place that doesn’t mind that I don’t have a teaching qualification.
‘You were doing something like that last time I saw you, weren’t you?’ she asks.
‘Sort of,’ I say, ‘but that was more cash in hand with people I met over the internet. This is official.’
Kirt has spent the summer working for an eclectic publication that looks at erotica. She had been doing an internship there when we met in the spring. Now she is a hardened erotic expert. ‘But my project ends on Friday,’ she says. ‘I’m not sure what I’ll do after.’
Lucinda serves coconut chicken and rice. ‘It’s normally more fluid than this,’ she says.
She pours more pink cava and tells us how Marcus wants to get a tortoise. ‘Don’t they live for decades?’ Kirt asks. ‘It’s a big statement of longevity,’ I say. I wonder is this, and the flat, and the dinner party tie in thematically with what Lucinda is now telling us about her serge of maternal desire after seeing a new born cousin.
We have a white chocolate and gingerbread cheesecake for desert. Lucinda realizes the cheesecake has stuck to the base of the dish and has to be taken out in chunks.
Kirt begins to tell us about joining a pop dance class run by an elastically attractive woman, and about following Orkney public library on twitter.
We all say goodbye before midnight and before opening the second bottle of pink cava.
The next day I see Evi and we talk about the new era. One of an awkward semi-functioning direction, banal in its predictability and too simple to complain about.
‘If I knew for certain I’d still be in London this time next year, I’d join the Royal Court.’ Evi says. This uncertainty seems vaguely hopeful; the tortoise years haven’t quite set in yet.