The Scene: A bar.
The Players: Novelists, children's writers, academics, translators, journalists, biographers, and other assorted literary intellectuals.
"Hi! Nice to see you! Which way did you come?"
"Oh, it was bloody awful. I drove down the [name of motorway] but there was so much traffic. I guess because of the football... I didn't realise [name of team] were playing at home."
"I know, I know, it's awful. The other day it took me hours to get into town. They were digging the road, you know the one..."
"Did you find that wallpaper you were after?"
"Yes! But then when I tried a sample it didn't look right with the curtains. You know my curtains with the lilies. So I really don't know what to do now. I'm losing my sleep over it."
"Where are you from?"
"Is your accent French?"
"What is it I hear?"
"I can't possibly tell you what it is you h–"
"Are you South African?"
"Oh, how interesting! Armenian... that's like Sephardic, isn't it?"
"Or am I thinking Coptic? What is it I'm thinking?"
"I've absolutely no idea what you're –"
"Armenian... Is it like... It's on the tip of my tongue..."
"It took me hours to find somewhere to park! [Name of city] is getting worse and worse!
"Where did you park, in the end?"
"You know the Arts Centre? Well, there's that street right on the side of it... What's it called? St-Something Lane..."
"Oh, yes. You should try behind the cinema, next time. I generally find a space there..."
"Will you have another?"
"Oooh, I shouldn't... Well, all right, I'll have another red. A bit rough but it's alcohol, it does the trick. Aren't you finishing your drink?"
"I don't like it."
"What is it, whisky? Are you going to just leave it? Such a waste. Do you mind if I have it?"
"Oh, and you know, I saw him the other day. His wife's left him."
"Oh, no! I hadn't heard..."
"Just walked out. To be honest, between you and me, I've always thought she was a bit difficult."
"We must ask him over for supper. Poor thing. He's having to fend for himself now so can't concentrate on his book."
"Oh, poor man."
"And I saw their daughter the other day – I don't think you've met her, have you?"
"No. I knew they had a daughter."
"Nice girl but had a drug problem in her teens. Her husband's got this promotion at work so they've bought this house in Yorkshire. They're knocking down half the walls and rebuilding it."
"How's your back?"
"Still really bad. Living on Ibuprofen."
"That's not very good for you."
"I know! Painkillers aren't good for you in general, are they? The GP's put me on this new painkiller. Let's hope it works. My neighbour says she was on it. Apparently, it really helped except that she then got so addicted..."
"Have you considered acupuncture?"
"Oh, they say it's brilliant. Yes, I must get around to it. It's on my list but there's always so much to do, there just aren't enough hours in the day! You know what it's like... The other day, I had to drive into town to sort out my watch. The battery died after only three months. That took half the morning. And then I had to rush to get a birthday present for..."