Exasperated, I sit back on my heels. My knees hurt from the cold damp floor, and the makeshift cushion of tea towels and plastic bags isn’t helping. I have part of a u-bend in my right hand and a lot of slime in the other. Lizzy and I have spent the last two hours attempting to unplug our sink. We’ve now come to an impasse: neither of us can unscrew the back pipe and our sink is now just as blocked as previously, and leaking.
George arrives shortly after we’ve filled our sink with unblocking granules. This had seemed fine, until the plughole started bubbling ferociously and emitting a smell like burning plastic. I open the door to George, who has come round to prepare for dinner (obviously in the middle of the afternoon to ensure we eat before midnight), and Lizzy runs out of the kitchen batting away smoke, with a green bandana covering her nose and mouth.
“We can do dinner some other time if today isn’t good.” George suggests nervously.
We’d planned the meal during a routine Wednesday evening pub visit in Putney. I had invited Magnus to eat at my flat, and George, unsurprisingly, had wanted to cook. Magnus was excited and I was unwilling to cancel, despite a creeping cold. And so here we were: five hours before Magnus was due to arrive, our cupboard filling slowly with water, and our only option to do all the washing up in the bath. We put a jug under the pipe, left George to cook, and took the fairy liquid with us, along with a pile of crockery, to the bathroom.
When Magnus arrived I used my powerful skills as a hostess to introduce him to Lizzy, who he was meeting for the first time, and suggested we watch Naked Attraction. The original shock of being inundated with strangers’ genitals quickly turned to amusement, which was fuelled by the prosecco we drank from 50th wedding anniversary flutes belonging to Lizzy’s grandmother – a woman who was divorced after sixteen years of marriage.* We became so invested in the mundane stories of the desperate naked singletons that we couldn’t stop watching, even when the food was (finally) ready.
“Pork loin in an apple cider sauce, served with fondant potatoes and carrot puree.”
George had outdone himself. The pork was on a bed of onions. I think they were described as sweated, and were delicious despite this unpromising introduction. The carrot sauce was smeared artistically around the edges of the plate, something I found particularly pleasing aesthetically. It was also beautifully light and subtle in taste and I was keen to express my wonder at George’s cleverness. My compliment was met with anger, however, and I was chastised for calling it a sauce instead of a puree. I couldn’t take the abuse, so collected the dirty dishes and carried them to the bath.
“It’s such an alarmingly wide vibrato.”
With Naked Attraction over, we found that mutual hatred of people served as a good talking point. It started with harmless observations concerning the musical talent of those we all happened to know. We bonded as a group, and the conversation quickly turned to the fact that Lizzy had seen a mutual friend of ours on an apparent date with a woman who wasn’t his girlfriend. By the end of the evening, we had as a group concocted a fairly bulletproof conspiracy theory concerning the particular man and his affair. Judging by the number of empty bottles that were left over, it may be safe to say that our theory may not be totally airtight.
It was getting late, and Magnus, having taken full advantage of phone charging and free wifi opportunities, made his move to leave. He dutifully brought a few pots and pans into the bathroom before walking out into the night, leaving the three of us kneeling at the bath wearing one marigold each.
* Since writing, one of the wedding anniversary glasses has been destroyed in a spiralizing incident