“I want a new baby”, he says. He is slightly drunk. I love him when he’s drunk. He’s more affectionate and also quite funny.
“You mean a puppy?”, I ask.
It seems ‘yes’. “We shall have to talk about the training first”, I state.
Of course, I don’t mean the puppy training. The puppy training is not a problem. I mean the ‘F training’. Of course, I don’t actually specify that. He thinks it’s the puppy training. There will also have to be less of the ‘can you take them out tonight’ or ‘do you mind if I don’t come’ lines. However, one thing at a time. And, anyway, it’s not happening before Rufus goes. Three, as I found out one time, are just so much more work.
We had been out with the ex-parents-in-law to al Grigliaro, a predominately fish restaurant, not far from our flats. F knew it because, when they are busy with the showroom sales and working till late in the evening, they sometimes go there as a group.
And, the staff know F, which is always a good thing as we get a much better service and, usually, a discount off the bill.
I asked him, as we were walking down to it, why he had changed his mind about me coming, since it was a complete about-turn and I was interested as to why the change of mind.
“I rang S”, he says, adding “and he said ‘of course you should take Andy'”. And, so, here we were walking down to another restaurant I hadn’t tried before.
It is another Sardinian restaurant but nothing like the same as Baia Chia. For one thing, this is not as ‘rustic’ as Baia Chia. There is more room and many more tables. It is also more expensive. We wait outside for M and S. They are from the Manchester area. I have my expectations of what they will look like and what they will be like. They are, of course, not really anything like I expected.
They are very nice, middle-class, people from the North. They know, of course, that we are not just ‘friends’ as F had said. But, then, S is their son and, no doubt told them that F had a new boyfriend. But, later, when F and I went out for a cigarette after the main course, I learnt of actually ‘why’ F was a little concerned.
They had met some time after S & F split up. They went out for a dinner. Apparently M (S’s mother) started crying and asking if S & F would get back together. He was worried about the same thing happening; or her being disappointed with him being with someone other than S; or something like that, I guess.
In typical Italian style, the restaurant was very brightly lit. The tables and chairs were OK but nothing special. The food however, was really lovely and the service very, very good. S didn’t eat shellfish (and was a bit of a finicky eater anyway). F asked the waiter (owner’s son) to bring us a selection of antipasto, mainly hot but also a little of the cold antipasto.
Plate after plate came. Some poached salmon, anchovies with a celery and ginger sauce; octopus with tiny courgette-type vegetables, squid with a rich, creamy, tomato sauce and polenta, prawns with artichoke, etc. For cold it was rather large prawns (that blue colour that looks as if it was someone who spent a little too long outside in freezing conditions), clams and, my favourite, oysters.
We chatted about many things and I asked appropriate questions, as one does. They were very nice people. And they were obviously pleased to see F had someone, probably, particularly, as they will have already met S’s new American boyfriend.
By the time we had finished the antipasto, none of us were really hungry. We decided to have three portions of fish (one of each poached, pan-fried and grilled) and split them between the four of us. The best was the grilled branzino – as branzino is, by far, my favourite fish.
We drank two bottles of very nice white wine. We had sweets. We had mirto which they had never had before and they brought the rest of the bottle, which we finished.
It went well. We are meeting them again tonight. Also, probably, A who is over from London again, for work. Tonight we shall go to Baia Chia.
As we are going up in the lift, with him slightly drunk, leaning on me and wanting cuddles, is when he said he wanted another ‘baby’. I know it is true, even if he is not there all the time (having to travel – even more now, probably, for work).
But, as I say, there will have to be some serious ‘F training’ for it to work