The Flatmate (that was), is now up to her neck in Italian Politics and any chit chat has to be by appointment and booked ahead. We have a provisional date for a week on Sunday.

In the meantime, she has celebrated living half a century. Obviously, I was not invited, because of “IT” and the collapse of air travel. I sent her a phone charger and a packet of pants for her Birthday. These are things that I know she is always short of because, mysteriously, I am now short of them.

The Goddaughter was in my kitchen while I was wrapping up the parcel. I said to her, tongue in cheek, “I think anyone would be delighted to receive a phone charger cable and a packet of pants for their Birthday, don’t you?”
“No,” she said. “It’s a bloody awful.”
“What can you possibly mean?”
“I’m not being funny, but if it were me, I’d prefer Gucci to a packet of pants and a manky old phone cable.”
It was true. She was not being funny.
I tried to redeem myself, holding up a basket I had made especially for the Flatmate (that was) Birthday. The Goddaughter examined it and scowled in disapproval. “Definitely not Gucci.”

On my way back from the Post Office I sent the Flatmate (that was) a whatsapp to explain to her that I’d sent her a present to make her laugh, but that it wasn’t Gucci.

A couple of weeks elapsed and I began to doubt the wisdom of my gift. Then a series of messages landed to say the present had arrived, and she had laughed and that the basket would live in her bathroom. This is inspired as I will never enter the realms of her bathroom so if she was horrified and feels the need to re-purpose the basket for firelighters, I will never know.

When I came home yesterday a letter from Italy was waiting for me. I couldn’t read it because it was handwritten and handwriting is not an easy thing to read. I sent a text asking if the flatmate (that was) could offer up a synopsis. She said I had better get someone else to read it to me. By great good fortune the honour fell to the Goddaughter as the first person across my threshold.

I have been the lucky recipient of a letter setting out the joy of friendship: a friendship that came about by a chance introduction in Sofia and has taken in various locations, quite a bit of salad, several editions of Newsnight and the Archers.

The Goddaughter was impressed with the sentiment, but wondered where Ambridge was and who Kirsty and Philip were. I explained that Philip is a crook and that the sooner Kirsty clicks on and dumps him, the better. She wondered about the BBC’s involvement in this scandal. I explained that neither Ambridge, Philip or Kirsty were real and that the Covid editions had been a poor show with neither the BBC or Philip coming out of this well. The Goddaughter was perplexed. In fairness to her I looked perplexed when she tried to explain the difference between beeswax polish and Mr Sheen. “You can’t use beeswax on that cupboard,” she’d told me. When I asked why, she rolled her eyes in disbelief that I, who have been polishing furniture since before she was born, could have such a gap in my understanding of household management. “You only use beeswax on certain types of wood,” she’d explained. “Not on that cupboard.”

The Goddaughter and the Flatmate (that was) have both enriched my life, in their words and in their deeds. I feel lucky in my friendships.