A chance for an actual lunch break today. When the magazine is going to press I make sure I don’t make lunch appointments that might need to be cancelled at the last minute. The magazine is actually done now, and so I have a chance for some time to myself. I’m due to buy an engagement present for Alison and, unsurprisingly perhaps, I find myself in Greystone’s the diamond merchants near the office.
I’m unsure what to buy and the merchant rather hit upon the problem when he asked me what she liked. I’m afraid to say that I went off into a small trance where I considered her opinions, imagined in my mind, about Anthony and Roger until the shopkeeper rather gently brought me back to the matter at hand.
“Would she like a broach perhaps?”
“No, no, she wouldn’t want a broach for an engagement present. I mean she may be indecisive but she isn’t gauche.”
“Well then Madam,” don’t think I didn’t notice the madam, “what do you think she would like?”
“Something tasteful but extravagant, something that shows, but not something that says I’ve lost all sense of taste and reason.”
“Quite the balancing act you are after.”
“Yes,” I said.
“Would she perhaps be interested in one of these collectable spoons?”
“She’s not a 7 year old boy”
“Well then madam, I am out of ideas.”
“Can you show me some of your diamond earrings? I believe you are famed for them?”
He came back with a selection on a tray. There was a particular pair that would have been absolutely perfect. I asked to look at them.
“An excellent choice madam,” he said. Of course the choice was excellent, in his eyes, they were the most expensive on the tray, but they were well priced.
I had spent the entire run up to this issue of the magazine being published wanting to reward myself by making this trip to buy something for Alison that she would love. I hadn’t really reassessed the trip in light of new developments. Forget the engagement being on the rocks, I’m not supposed to know about that as such, or rather she still would expect a present despite that. My concern as I looked at these rather beautiful earrings, which glinted and flashed colour as I rolled them on the felt, was that this present would amount to tacit approval of the pairing in the first place.
I might be confused about my place in the potential destruction of the relationship, but one thing I was pretty confident about was that I wasn’t keen on the pairing in the first place. At first I thought I was voicing this by buying a present only for her, but now I wondered, if buying anything at all was a mistake.
“Madam, would you like to purchase those at all?”
“No, thank you, I would not.”
I walked out, went to the cake shop. I may not have been able to enjoy that reward but I was’t going to go unrewarded. At the cake shop I purchased a jam doughnut and scoffed it on the way back while trying not to lick my lips. I had to lick my lips twice and then I had to reapply my lipstick before I made it back to the office. A good lunch break it seemed.