Tuesday, June 08, 2004

So I've got this friend, right, and she's going out with some guy, and she really likes him, it's been a couple of months, and then she calls me up in a real state: he forgot to mention he's still living with his girlfriend. What should she do? (Of course, that should be "what should she do, girlfriend?") Obvious to me: no-one wants to be second choice, it's bad for your self-esteem, blah blah blah, these kinda people never change. She loves him. I can't help wondering how much he loves her. I keep schtum. I have learned through bitter experience that people have to find out these things for themselves.

But she's really upset. We go out for a drink, we talk, we reach the bottom of a number of bottles of mid-range red wine, but not the bottom of the argument. She is unsure.

A week later, he ditches her. He's going back to his girlfriend. Quel surprise. (Or is that quelle surprise? Mrs Pearson always said I wasn't good at French).

We go out more, because she's properly sad now. I say she deserves better. She says he was all she could get. I feel sad for her. We differ. She goes home, I make a mental note to see if I know anyone she'll get on with. I forget about it (aka at the bottom of a very long list).

I don't hear from her for a while. She's super-sad. No-one can help her. Yesterday, she calls me up, all summer flowers and jaunty flirty skirts in her voice. They're back together. He left his girlfriend. Really? my inner cynic thinks, but doesn't say, knowing better. Well, he's in the process of leaving her...

I think people don't change their fundamental behaviour, unless something really makes them learn. In my first job, I shared an office with P: an average looking bloke, on the skinny side. Nice guy, but, y'know, nothing special. Turned out we'd been at the same northern Redbrick University, but he'd been in the bar for three years and I'd been in the Union, so we'd never hooked up. He was living with his girlfriend, in the top floor of her father's house in Golders Green (he wasn't Jewish, and I always thought this odd. Who'd live in the Volvo heartland if they didn't have to). After a while, they rented a flat together, opposite Hendon bagel bakery.

Then, P got it together with a woman at work: a beautiful older divorcee, S, who was like 50 to our 23. She used to be a model. She was fabulous. I had the inside track, because P and I shared an office, and people kept thinking he was buying these really OTT flowers for me, but they were for S.

So P left his girlfriend, who was bizarrely paying for the whole of their flat in Hendon, and moved in with S in her Kent commuter country home. I went to their wedding. Six months later, he met this woman at work... Same old, same old. They returned the wedding gifts.

I say that it's odd how in what's now like ten years of living in London, he's never, to my knowledge (we've lost touch), paid rent or a mortgage. Some say, in these times of rising property prices, that's a wise move. Others say, does this guy have no sense of responsibility? It's a machlochet. Is the the smart, property savvy guy? Or is he a love-rat, in the language of the tabloids.

Another thing about him: maybe five years ago I was going for a job in an area where he'd done some work when we worked together, and I wanted to remind myself of the issues. I asked him to fax me a brochure from his collection (we all have one), and when it arrived, he'd scrawled his signature right across every page of it. I wasn't planning to show it off as my work in an interview, I just wanted to refresh my memory, but he thought I was going to...

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