The mystery woman turned out to be Kylie, the bottle blonde bombshell from settlements, who fell for his charms when she saw his new Porsche less than two months ago. The resulting dinner date must have been a success, and the whirlwind romance culminated on Saturday with a proposal over a slap-up meal at Romford's best Italian restaurant.
Neil has spent the whole week giving me smug yet baleful looks of the "if you'd played your cards right it could have been you" variety. Worse still, I've started to have terrible dreams in which it is me, and wake up shaking with horror.
Even leaving Neil out of it, Laura and I are not convinced there are such things as joys of marriage. "I mean," Laura said, frowning, "if marriage is so great, how come so many people get divorced?" "Well," I told her, "apparently, we'll feel quite differently about it the minute we're in our thirties, and we'll suddenly become desperate to settle down. That's what it says in the magazines. It must be true."
"Oh," Laura said. "I thought it was men who suddenly got desperate to be married, and all this stuff about us being more likely to be run over by a bus than get hitched was just to frighten us into tying the knot with the first bloke who asked us."
"What gave you that idea?"
"Neil, actually," she replied. "He was telling me earlier how sick of take-aways he was, and how nice it would be not to spend Sunday night ironing his shirts for the week. I wonder if Kylie knows what she's letting herself in for."
Not that it matters, we decide. If she ever realises she's made a terrible mistake, we can always sell Kylie our long list of ways to get rid of odious Neil (number 352: drug him, stick "meat is murder" T-shirt on him, and leave him at Smithfield Market).
"That friend of Sash's would approve of the T-shirt, at least," Laura points out. So I laugh and realise that, what with all the talk about Neil, I haven't yet told her how Beanie coped with being the token arty at my dinner for City friends. I'd had high hopes that he would cope badly; after all, he was the one who was so vile to me when I was the token suit last week ("capitalist bitch", indeed). And I'd deliberately invited people I knew would take exception to his lifestyle, including Jasper, who thinks anyone who works less than a 70-hour week is a pathetic scrounger.
The first shock is that the caterer turns out to have been at prep school with one guest, and we nearly have to send out for pizza because they spend so long reminiscing. Luckily, the gingered poussins, when they arrive, show no sign of neglect and everyone tucks in happily.
Beanie arrives late, not in the least bit apologetic. I'm just about to say something terse when Jasper suddenly roars out, "Beanie, old boy, what the hell brings you here?" and Beanie goes scarlet and stomps over and they give each other great matey slaps on the back.
"Meet Beanie, everyone," Jasper booms, "my old mate from Winchester. Jammy bastard got left an absolute fortune by his grandfather in our last year, so he'll never have to do a day's work in his life."Reuse content