It wasn’t just the fact that she phoned that surprised me, but that she actually phoned. Not a text, tweet, email or whatever, but a proper let’s-party-like-it’s-2005 phone call.
Would I like to go to a photography exhibition at Tate Britain?
She was standing on the steps when I arrived. She looked different. When we’d met on the anti-austerity march she was wearing a ‘Bad Grammar Makes Me [SIC]’ tee shirt, and a tatty but snug pair of faded jeans. This time she’d made what my mother would call An Effort. Because that’s what’s socially adequate people do when they arrange to meet up. I cursed myself. I only have the one look, what an ex-girlfriend once disparagingly termed Columbo Chic.
She warily eyed the Yashica slung over my shoulder and reminded me that she didn’t like having her picture taken.
‘I get self-conscious and pull stupid faces,’ she explained. ‘You have to catch me when I’m not looking.’
She turned and bounded lightly up the steps, her heels clacking against the stone. I did a quick guess-focus and snapped off a single frame. At the top she turned to face me, and I gave what I hoped was a sheepish, self-effacing grin.
She shrugged. ‘I hope you got my best side.’
She frowned, and whilst she tried to work out whether I’d just complimented or insulted her, I started to wonder which of the two would make her the most uncomfortable.