My laptop came home from the hospital today. It has a new logic board and a new super drive. I thank Jesus and all his fairies that I had the foresight to buy the Apple Care Protection Racket, so all the repairs and parts are covered. If you ever need Mac repairs I recommend Amsys. They collect and deliver.
I drive around to Mayhem Mansions to return the Macbook that Ted so kindly lent me. Smells of exotic cooking waft down the hallway as Hugo hurls himself in a frenzied attack at my ankles. The place is jumping. In the kitchen I find Muttiah, just returned from a long trip home to Malaysia and now cooking up a tempest: lamb curry, chicken curry, vegetable curry, rice and pappadums. Ted has just got in from work. He is baking a crumble or something. I hear a joyful “yap, yap, yap,” and Chilli bursts onto the scene, closely followed by Iris and Jamie. Jamie is learning lines for his forthcoming starring role in Bedbound at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre in Kentish Town.
Lounging on various sofas are Valentina, her husband Tom and Lydia, another acting friend of ours (I mean in the sense that she is an actress, not a stand-in friend). “Thyat’s a lovely nyecklacke,” Valentina says to Iris, “is it Swarovski?” “No, it’s Muttyovski,” replies Iris. Muttiah then shimmies in with two more crystal necklaces and present Valentina and I with one each.
Over dinner Valentina announces: “I am so hyappy. Now that I have my British citizenship I am going to buy a Kyasee Ooltimo* machine and open a beauty salon.” “What’s that?” we all ask. “It is the latest, most scientific machine for giving non-surgical facelifts." Valentina explains, "They devyeloped it for people who have had strokes and then they found that the side of their face that was being treated was looking younger than the other side. It’s true,” she declares, “it’s better than buttocks!” By this time the whole table is fainting with delight at the idea of a machine that can give one a facelift and is better that Botox. Furthermore, that we should know someone who is about to own such a machine. “I’ll be your guinea pig, “ everyone shouts at once. “I need it the most,” hollers Lydia. “Yes, but I’ve been the sickest,” I proclaim. “I was deeply traumatised as a child,” Jamie declares, in a melodramatic tone. Then, so as to deflect attention from our greedy graspiness we ask Valentina about her salon plans. “I want to hyelp people, like abused women,” says Valentina with the magnanimity of Miss World. “What, you want to give them facelifts?” asks Ted. “No,” she explains patiently, “I want to make a network of people who can help them.” I am still a little mystified by this aspect of Valentina’s business plan.
The conversation soon turns to ghosts and psychic mediums. Everyone tries to top one another’s otherworldly experiences. Jamie and Iris, in their endless quest for the ultimate crazy fad that will make their lives complete, have recently attended the Spiritualist Church. There, Iris’s long-deceased mother spoke to her. I am quite impressed to hear it. It has been my experience that psychic mediums are a bunch of hoodwinkers but I am always willing to entertain a different point of view. Especially if it is backed up by direct experience of someone whose word I trust. We imagine what ghosts might be stalking us right at this very moment. “The Murdered Maid of Mayhem Mansions?” Iris suggests. Spooked now, we decide it is time to leave.
Valentina dons a black headscarf gives us a marvellous demonstration of how to extract folding money from people by telling their fortune. It seems that the technique is to simply terrify them into handing over the cash.
“I think Valentina will make a wonderful beautician,” I remark to Iris in the car on the way home. “Yes, she is so lovely and so kind,” agrees Iris. Valentina is such a big presence that I have never really had a proper conversation with her husband Tom. “What does Tom do?” I ask Iris. She thinks hard for a moment or two. “Well,” she finally tells me, “he has got some kind of a, um, ah, job!” Iris and I fall about laughing. It’s a concept that is totally alien to us.
I’m back at home now, rushing to get this finished so that I can go to bed. I am tremendously excited that I’m going to start using the Revitalash eyelash grower tonight. Even better than that, Nick is arriving in the morning.
*It’s called the CACI Ultimate.