Ladies who lunch – or not

I had a phone call from Outer Mongolia the other evening. It was so faint it certainly sounded as though it was from the furthest corner of the planet but I did decipher someone closer to home.  Did I want to meet for coffee, asked the distant voice from another world?  By now I’d figured it was one of my occasional running friends.  I’m sure we all have friends who we meet in one context but rarely in others, so this invite was slightly unusual but very welcome.  I work at home, you see, so I’m always up for being disturbed by not-to-be-missed social events.  Call in for coffee any time you’re passing, I say to people, but they rarely do.  “I wouldn’t want to disturb you if you’re working”. 

Anyhow, we arranged to meet for lunch today, midday, in a local bookshop cum cafe.  But I work at home, and the phone rang just before I left with a call I had to take.  So I was late, about 7 minutes in my estimation.  I looked round the cafe: noone I recognised.  I browsed in the bookshop. Still noone I recognised.  I ordered coffee and sat with the newspaper.  The place was still full of strangers.  Had she been and gone, I wondered, because I was late?  But I wasn’t really that late.  So eventually I phoned her.  “I’m in the kitchen” she said.  “But we arranged to meet for lunch!” I said.  “Didn’t we?  12 at the cafe?”.  Continue reading