Posts Tagged ‘fruit crumble’

Lunch & Laughter

An excellent day. I actually really love spending time at Joanie’s house – Mark and Joanie are such great people, and Abi’s a really sweet kid. James came too, which was fantastic. I get the feeling he doesn’t get to spend much time around other people, and you really can’t ask for a more well-balanced and supportive family than the Reillys.

They’d made all the food there at home – salads, panini, biscuits, fresh-squeezed juice, some lovely steaks and to finish off, an amazing fruit crumble that Abi had apparently slaved over all morning. I added my rather tokenistic bottle of white to the feast, and James had brought a log of nougat from the deli. We sat down, and Joanie introduced Abi to James, who gave her a friendly, if a little timid, smile.

It was hard not to notice the tense, anxious looks both Mark and Joanie kept shooting at their daughter, which jarred slightly with their easy jokes and banter. The poor girl did look rather pale, and lacked her usual sunny smile. But she sat with us all the same, listening and picking at her food. James told a rather stuttered joke about a hedgehog and a pineapple, and managed to coax a half-grin out of her, and a compliment on the crumble earned him a warm look and a tiny twinkle in her eye.

Mark told a story about his sister’s best friend, whose husband had been cheating on her. She’d found out that it had been going on for many months, possibly years, and was furious. She got her revenge at a party the couple had attended. While chatting with a group of acquaintances, Mark’s sister’s friend, Sarah, had begun to recount this dream she’d had. In the dream she’d met one of her husband’s female colleagues in a cafe. The girl had been nervous and distant, not meeting Sarah’s eyes. As the girl turned to leave, Sarah noticed (in her dream, she assured the crowd), that the girl was wearing a scarf very similar to the one she herself had given her husband three Christmases ago. Upon returning home, in her dream, she’d gone to look for the scarf, and found it not in her husband’s wardrobe – strange. (For, she told her audience, as they all well knew, Jason was fastidious about his clothing and its organisation.) She called out to Jason, but there was no answer, though she was sure (in her dream) that she had heard someone moving about in the living room at the very back of the house. Further inspection of the bedroom had turned up another anomaly – a necklace Sarah did not own, tangled around one of the bedposts. How strange a dream, Sarah exclaimed to the onlookers. Stranger still, when the dream-Sarah went downstairs to look for her husband, and walked silently into the living room to come across him tangled- (Here Joanie interrupted Mark with a loud “ahem!” and a pointed look in Abigail’s direction. Mark and Abi both rolled their eyes at her, Abi with a weary “Muuuuum” and Mark saying soothingly, “She’s fifteen, Joanie, not three.” Joanie shrugged. Mark continued) – tangled in the arms of another, much younger, woman. At this point in the story Sarah had turned to look at her husband (who presumably was looking rather uncomfortable by now) and flung the incriminating necklace she’d been hiding in her handbag firmly at his face, turned on her heel and swept gracefully out of the room, leaving the adulterous Jason to the glowering disapproval and disgust of their friends. I commented that we were seeing a far classier breed of cuckoldress these days, which earned me a bread roll square to the face from Joanie followed by a grape from Abi. As I brushed the crumbs from my jacket James rather drily commented that it was a real wonder I didn’t have a girlfriend, which finally got him the laugh from Abigail he’d been trying so hard for all afternoon.

As Abigail pealed out her famous giggle (albeit not quite as energetic as her usual self) I glanced at Joanie and Mark. Their faces told a thousand words, as relief and joy washed over their features like the tide. I watched the rain start to fall outside in the garden, and felt like a million dollars.


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