The radio and TV presenter (we’ll call him Gino) had booked dinner at Assaggi for 6.30pm. Rather early, I thought. He wasn’t the only diner when I arrived, though: there were several other couples with small children, one of whom was lying face down on the wood floor, arms and legs flailing while she screamed. One of the waiters managed to pacify her.
Gino and I talked about people, places and preconceptions. He mentioned the rumours about him being gay; I mentioned one of my friends thinking I was a ‘Champagne Charlie’ before we met. ‘A lot of people I work with are gay,’ the radio presenter said. ‘But I’m not,’ he added. I can’t remember what led to each one, but there were three high fives during the course of dinner. This was definitely a friend date. There was also no chance of an after-dinner drink as I soon learned that Gino goes to bed early during the week. He didn’t need to get up until 7am, but he took his job seriously – he wanted to be fresh for it. ‘I’m in my PJs. Just kidding,’ he texted at 9.50pm.
Kate had returned from Australia for three weeks. ‘Can you set me up with someone at your birthday?’ I consulted Dominic, who had set me up with Tom. ‘Is she just looking for a quick fling, though?’
‘Maybe someone could persuade her to stay…’ I was right. When I questioned Kate she admitted that flights are easy to change.
I was a little nervous about mentioning to Tom that Gino was among the seven eligible bachelors I’d invited to my birthday. ‘Brilliant. Wasn’t he on Blue Peter?’ Tom was the third person who’d thought that when I’d mentioned Gino’s name. No, he wasn’t on Blue Peter. ‘He’s going to be my new friend,’ Tom added, smiling. Tom also thought Gino was gay.