I paused, muesli spoonful halfway to my mouth. ‘I thought I’d got about ten minutes.’
She raised an eyebrow. ‘We like to start on time, you know.’
It was eight fifty on a Sunday morning – eight fifty one, to be precise, and Jan liked to be precise. I’d seen her last night at the BBQ, lining up the wine glasses in a neat line. A neat line, asking to be broken. And it had been.
I sighed. But not by me. I had kept my vow to stay sober before giving my talk, although judging by the look on Jan’s face, she didn’t believe me. I put the last spoonful down, uneaten. I thought about having another, last drink of tea, but decided against that too. I didn’t want to be late, I thought, as I pushed back my chair and stood up.
‘Which room am I in?’
Jan showed no sign of being irritated, though she must have been, as she’d already told me many times before. Along with all sorts of other stuff about the conference, which I’d managed to forget, or mislay. My room at home was scattered with bits of paper as I’d decided to reorganise my entire filing system that week. It had seemed a better idea than writing a novel, which was what my agent thought I was doing. Somewhere under all the bits of paper, the conference information lay. In other words, it wasn’t with me.
Jan told me which room I was speaking in, and checked her watch again. I’m sure it was fast. Either that, or time was being squished, like electrons going round the Large Hadron Collider 574 feet under the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva.
I sighed again. We weren’t in Geneva now. We were in Greenwich.