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THE SOUTHAMPTON HUNDREDS

54

In the union bar one lunchtime I am thunderstruck by a face across the room. She is part of my vaguely extended group so that I may fall into a tentative orbit around her, mooning. I make her a diary at the end of the year with a thinly allegorical tale as a foreword. She sends a thank you note with grimacingly polite, thumb-and-forefinger ‘I’m flattered’ noises. Near Christmas we meet up in town: which is to say we trail round some shops while she buys presents for her family and even I can tell I’m being thinly tolerated.