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William Donaldson's Week: I've fallen for Classy Cressida

I LIKE to keep my place spick and span and, if possible, without its furniture strewn all over the floor in its various disassembled parts - particularly when old Lady Huggins of the Chelsea Rent Assessment Office is about to give us an inspection.

All the more surprising, then, that I'm head over heels in love with Classy Cressida, whom I met for the first time at 2am on Thursday morning and who at 8am sat on my coffee table and went clean through it.

Now she's asleep in a heap among the debris and I only hope I can wake her up and tip her into the street in time for her to attend Snowdon's boy's wedding tomorrow to the Stanhope girl (or yesterday, as it will be by the time you read this).

I blame Honest John, in fact. Last week, you may remember, he cut off my supply of Zantac and, judging that Penny, my beloved's, fat man's needs might be greater than mine, drove to Fowey on the Cornish coast with a lorry-load of the stuff.

'God, what a frightful couple,' he said on his return. 'I give it another month at the most' - which wasn't at all what I wanted to hear, of course.

'Tell me more,' I said.

'Conversationally,' he said, 'it's like wading through treacle in divers' boots. Assuming from their size that eating is their only interest, I said: 'Do you fancy Chinese?' 'Absolutely,' the fat man said. 'Good,' I said. 'I've invited the Wongs over for a pizza'.'

I choked with laughter for 20 minutes, then asked Honest John how the fat man had responded.

'He didn't get it,' said Honest John.

'He'll be used to that,' I said.

'Don't be too sure,' said Honest John. 'The fat man suddenly said, 'If we do it now, we won't have to do it after dinner,' whereupon he and Penny, your beloved, disappeared into the bedroom for exactly three and a half minutes.'

We choked with laughter for another 20 minutes and then Honest John said: 'Damn and blast, I've swallowed the rocks.'

That was bad news. Honest John, who likes, streetwise, to be au courant, had pitched up at my place with a mouthful of rocks - and not for me, I hasten to add, but for Abby From The Eighties, who, earlier that day, had told me she was in a mood to party.

And not before time, as it happens - neither for me, nor for Mr Caruana, of the Sicilian Mafia, who lives in Woking, and his man, Francesco Di Carlo, who is currently residing in the secure wing of Parkhurst Prison, and who together, and unbeknown to Scotland Yard (although I've told them often enough), are responsible for two-thirds of all the cocaine arriving in this country.

Many's the time in the past three months that Mr Caruana has phoned me from Woking, or Mr Di Carlo from the Isle of Wight, begging to be told when Abby From The Eighties might be in the mood again to live it up a little.

'Since Abby From The Eighties has been grieving for Penny, your - and her - beloved,' says Mr Caruana, or Mr Di Carlo, 'the price of cocaine has dropped by 40 per cent. Currently, I have three shiploads of the stuff on their way from Bogota which I'll not able to move for love or money.'

'Don't blame me,' I say. 'Since Penny, our beloved, moved her business to the Cornish coast, Abby From the Eighties has been inconsolable.'

And that's the sober truth. Whereas I, for the most part, have maintained a dignified silence on the subject, squaring the shoulders and hiding my broken heart under a jocular exterior, Abby From The Eighties has been as much fun as a memorial service for a daft old mime.

'My God, I miss her so,' she'd say. 'Her bruising unconcern, her unconsoling eyes, her little hands, her spiteful little mouth, her twinkling toes, her satiny little . . .'

'Never mind that,' I'd say. 'Let's party, for goodness sake.'

'I'll never party again,' she'd say.

Imagine, then, my delight when she phoned on Thursday to say that she'd be coming over after work with Classy Cressida.

'I only like common girls,' I said.

'She's common underneath,' said Abby From The Eighties.

'As common as Penny, our beloved?' I said.

'Who's Penny?' said Abby From The Eighties.

That was more like it, then, except that Honest John had swallowed the rocks, obliging Abby From The Eighties and Classy Cressida - who, fortunately, had just dined out with a party of Japanese businessmen and whose handbags, therefore, were stuffed with pounds 50 notes, similar denominations in yen or something of the sort, travellers' cheques and shares in Mitsubishi - to spend the next two hours on their mobile phones ordering up so much stuff that Mr Caruana and Mr Di Carlo had to fax their people in Bogota for three more shiploads.

In the event, Classy Cressida was - is - so heartbreakingly beautiful that I was about to propose to her, I think, when she sat on the coffee table and went clean through it, forcing us to make another call to Mr Caruana.

At which point, old Lady Higgins arrived to carry out her inspection of our premises.

'Ah Cressida, there you are,' she said. 'What a relief to find you mixing at last with nice young people.'

'Hullo, Mummy,' said Classy Cressida - whereupon she passed clean out.

'Wake her up in time for the Linley wedding,' said Lady Huggins 'You'll be taking her, I hope?'

I doubted that, as it happened, but I'll be seeing Classy Cressida again - which means, of course, that I'll be extant in future only between midnight and 8am. That should fool the VAT man.