Anyone who finds themselves experiencing a spot of romantic yearning, however slight, will inevitably begin a series of attempts at mind-reading.
There will be forensic examination of the paper trails of communication with that person in a futile search for meaning. Friends get hauled into the operations room to assist with the analysis, poring over syntax to try to establish the dynamic of the relationship and whether you stand a chance of having a dirty weekend in Tenby.
It's staggeringly pointless, but we do it anyway. If the mental energy expended on deducing romantic intention were applied to more pressing global issues, Arctic ice would be surging back to wherever it was 30 years ago and deaths from cancer would be comparable with deaths from sitting on hazelnuts. But no. We sit about going, "What does it mean when someone says that they're busy on Friday?" while influenza viruses mutate and we remain staggeringly inarticulate in a whole range of foreign languages. It's pathetic.
So anyway, help me with this. I went on a date with a girl about two months ago and it went quite well – in fact, she used the words "lovely evening" in an email, which is good, right? So I suggested meeting up the following week, and she said she couldn't, but she was free the week after. But then her circumstances changed and she altered the time of our next rendezvous to "not right now", which I found disconcertingly vague. Her replies became sporadic, and if I'm going to be paranoid about this (and I may as well use this opportunity), a bit evasive.
So I gave up. But then an email! She said she'd like to see me again – but "it may involve seeing you at odd times for very short periods".
What could this mean? Elevenses? Watching party political broadcasts at daybreak? Moonlit egg-boiling? I never found out, because she never told me. Then, a few weeks later, an email! She'd like to see me. I asked when. No reply for a couple of weeks, but then another email! "I'd like to see you, if that's OK." I asked when. No reply. I told her that I felt compelled to write about this gloriously constipated and somewhat baffling communication channel, to which she replied, "Feel free." So I did. I'm sure you'll agree that I should book the church, pronto.