I hadn’t seen Aldous and his wife since our return from holiday. I hadn’t seen them for a relatively long time in fact, and with having had heated discussions lately, I thought I had to show my good will and therefore rang them up. Aldous’ wife answered the telephone and sounded very friendly indeed. I asked her, were they free to come and see us in three days’ time, keeping us company together with Yan and Johnie and their wives. She said, what a lovely idea and how extraordinary that I should say that, because they had been invited to a dinner on that day. However, she had just received a telephone call asking them to come a day later. They would love to join us, she said. I was pleased to hear it.
Next morning she gave me a ring. She had a biggish problem about one of her dogs, she informed me. They were going away for a week, and while their elderly neighbour was prepared to look after one dog, she was at a loss what to do with the other one. She had tried to place her with a lady-friend who had first said ‘yes’ and then ‘no’. She had asked George, whose wife she visits frequently, could he help. He had said ‘yes, but …’ I interrupted her at this point, feeling a touch of impatience welling up inside me, and remarked that George was obviously unwilling to put himself out, even for her. He would have cancelled his evening class, Aldous’ wife said apologetically, but I didn’t want him to, poor man. She had gone back home, she added, consulting her husband who had advized to contact … me ! She hadn’t really wanted to, she said, it’s always you. But then I didn’t know what to do. I assured her that we would have her dog and she was relieved.
In the evening we saw them at the concert. They sat next to us, we had kept seats for them, and I asked Aldous to have a few provocative statements ready for our forthcoming gathering, so as to stimulate the conversation, the challenge being to remain friends ‘in spite of it’. He made no comment on this, whereas she giggled.