I was standing in the queue for passport control at Marrakech airport when my mobile phone started to purr in my pocket.
“Sorry, can’t meet you for dinner tonight. Reservation problem.” Mr Frog
I felt like a balloon, slowly deflating. My first day. Out of the aeroplane not five minutes, and already some bad news.
“Shame,” I texted back. I thought that was suitably ambiguous. He could read into that whatever he wanted. It could mean “Oh, okay, never mind, that’s cool” but equally “Oh what a terrible shame. I’m gutted. You have ruined my holiday. And how much notice did you need that I’d be joining you, anyway? Was a month not enough?”
Later, as I meandered through the souk, hopelessly lost, wondering if I would ever find my way back to my hotel, my phone stirred in my pocket once more. This time it was a call. From Mr Frog. Goodness only knows how much Orange would be charging me for the privilege, but I sighed and picked up anyway.
“Hi, how’s it going?”
“M’kay. I’m lost. I have no idea where my hotel is. But apart from that, fine… You?”
“Good. We’re just leaving the medina actually. Heading back to our hotel for a massage.”
“Ah. Happy finish?”
“Never mind,” I said, wondering if it was really possible he could have forgotten the Christmas dinner at my parents’ place where I had one too many G&T’s and somehow ended up on the subject of Prince Charles. I don’t recall the exact definition I supplied to my confused grandma, but I’m surprised the scene was forgettable.
“Listen,” he said, “I’m sorry about tonight. N had made a reservation somewhere really posh, and he tried to add you on, but couldn’t.” I made a face which I was glad he couldn’t see, and refrained from stating the obvious, i.e. that he had known I would be joining him for A Very Long Time and this was rather A Weak Excuse.
“No worries. I’m fixed for tonight. I’m eating in my hotel. Which is lovely, by the way…”
“Oh. Right. Because I was going to offer to come out with you instead. Just the two of us.”
I ponder. A ploy to get me on my own? No. I doubt it. We lunch on our own all the time. A ploy to not see me with his friends to minimise embarrassment and awkwardness? Perhaps. Utterly pathetic organisational skills and a rather half-hearted attempt to make amends? Most likely explanation.
“No. It’s fine. Really. You go out with your friends and I’ll eat in my hotel. Have a lovely holiday. And tell me if you get anything for Tadpole, so I don’t end up buying her the same thing.”
So folks, I’m afraid that is the story. A bit of an anti-climax for all concerned. And proof, if such a thing were needed, that people never change.