Since our old college is shut down, Jen thinks Bath would be a good central point. Several dates are negotiated.
Sorry, I'm in New York!
We're away camping, it's booked.
I drive up. Girl says: I hardly remember it at all.
It's 20 years ago, I say.
We park and check in and get on a bus.
Always on a bus, in those days. The 484. Still had to walk a mile or so down the drive to the college. Carried all our laundry on that bloody bus. In those days. Shared a house, all of us. Formative years!
I know them, as though we had never parted company at all.
Hugs and exclamations!
Girl was five or six: and now she's 24?!
Ridiculous! That's older than we were…
Elaine slides the photo album from her bag…
Oh! I remember that jumper; those knickknack things in the fire surround; hideous carpet; that tall girl- Yes, she was at Leeds- Paul the landlord; didn't care for wearing trousers around the house. Afraid of girls though. Here's Girl, waving cute hands at the camera. So cute! Remember that hat Kate? That costume, Sandie? Lisa in the silver tights!
To the table where the wine waits; light hearted whites from the cheap end of the menu, loitering on ice; we draw in; slide along the bench and ask the waitress: could we have some water too please.
Jen doesn't recall breaking the cupboard door: launches into monologue: we say this is not a conversation now, it's good stand-up.
I can't have the banoffi pudding, the waiter says, they have run out of bananas.
He stands patiently waiting, shifts his weight from foot to foot, while we laugh and laugh.
On Sunday morning we assemble in the Assembly Rooms.
We will do this again, we say. Hire a cottage and cook. Give Jen lots of wine.
We have tickets for the costume museum and the Roman Baths.