Even so, The Companion made a well-intentioned inquiry about the man’s oldest son, expecting to be regaled with tales of the boy’s sporting prowess, only to be informed, perhaps appropriately through clenched teeth, that the dentist’s offspring is currently serving a community service order for dealing drugs at his eye-wateringly expensive and exclusive private school, and was damn lucky not to have been expelled.
Panicked, The Companion sought to laugh it off as the lad’s youthful hijinks but blundered into a further ill-targeted comment about worse things happening at sea, which was meant to be a funny reference to the former rugby player’s recent charity kayaking event, but then remembered in horror that the dentist and his wife had only relatively recently recovered from a severe yacht cruise trauma, started by some bad oysters and only ended by an intravenous drip in hospital.
At this point the woman declared she was no longer going to stand there and be insulted by “this clown” – and she said it in a tone and at a volume that just cut straight through the background conversation. The room fell silent as she grabbed her husband’s hand and dragged him from the room. With all eyes now on him, The Companion – to his immense credit – drained his champagne glass, shrugged and made a beeline for the bar.
In the car on the way home he explained to me how all of this happened. He hadn’t done it deliberately, but as usual his good-natured and well-intentioned motivation merely provided a foundation for things to go stupidly wrong. I know the couple he encountered: he’s a prick, she’s a cow, and their son is a menace to society. He drives a Range Rover Sport and she drives and Evoque, and there’s nothing wrong with that, except that they have his ‘n’ her’s number plates. I simply couldn’t be angry; in fact I was proud of him, more than anything else. I let him fret about it for a good long time before I let him know that, though. In fact I let him know twice.