It’s the day after The Mango Orchard launch party. My head is aching in places that only tequila can reach. It’s not ideal timing, but I have to get up to go to a friend’s birthday bash in the Lord Nelson, a laid-back gastro pub somewhere near Camden, but nowhere near any public transport links.
I decide to get out of bed and walk in the bright sunshine, walk myself out of a hangover. I love London in the sun. The man at the fruit stall is whistling, women with enormous sunglasses drive Jeep convertibles, hemp bags of groceries and daffodils in the passenger seat. I sit in the sun outside a coffee shop, luxuriating in the warmth on my face. I turn over and realise I am still in bed.
The phone rings but I ignore it. Okay, okay, I’m on my way. I jump in the shower and I walk a while but realise I’m never going to make it for the end of the meal, let alone the beginning, so I hail a black cab.
I hurriedly write my friend’s birthday card outside the pub, leaning on a table where a woman is smoking roll-ups, sitting with an implausibly fluffy rabbit, and rush in.
I sup a glass of water, wincing at the clatter of cutlery and crockery, until my friend, whose birthday it is, opens a bottle of champagne. The phone rings as I’m handed a glass. I ignore it again and allow my hangover to fizz and then fade away.
It’s several hours later and I arrive home. Music or telly? I still haven’t decided when the phone rings again. This time I answer. It’s Juanita. With timing that is entirely consistent with her character, she has flown into the country to come to the party a full twenty four hours late.