Harold is in a dilemma.
Olga has suggested they meet. She is, she says, happy to fly to London next week and catch the first train north. I see no immediate problem until Harold shows me her email, which continues as follows:
‘I look forward to viewing your estate, and going out on your yacht if the weather is fine. No need to send a chauffeur to collect me from the airport. I am, as you know, an independent-minded woman and prefer, if possible, to make my own way.’
It seems that, in an effort to impress, Harold has not so much gone overboard as flung himself off Beachy Head and started for New York at a brisk pace.
He says the deception began innocently enough; largely in the belief that theirs was a doomed affair, if only because of the landmass in-between.
I resist the urge to ask if no one’s alerted him to the invention of the aeroplane, or the inter-continental train. Granted, Vladivostok is a fair old trek – but so is Melbourne, and his neighbours two doors down have made it there and back twice in the last three years.
Once out of the stalls and running, Harold lost his head, painting an image of Croesus in his palace, unable to spend his fortune fast enough. The young lady was impressed – hardly surprising! – and keen to hear more. Harold was happy to oblige – too happy as it turned out – and now the ball has been returned at speed and struck him where it shouldn’t.
Mrs C has no sympathy when I tell her. ‘There’s no fool like an old fool,’ she says, and adds that she hopes it will be a lesson to me. I fail to see why it should be, but don’t say that, of course, as it would be asking for trouble.
I tell Harold he’ll have to come clean. He’s a magician and trained in the art of illusion. But even David Copperfield, who once made China disappear – or something of that kind – would have his work cut out to turn Harold’s modest semi into a 40-acre ranch with lake attached.
He says he’ll email her at once and let me know what happens.
I can’t wait. Nor, I’m sure, can you.
Thought for the Day
‘I used to believe in puppy love. Of course, the puppy wasn’t so keen.’