Hangover or no hangover, I’ve tidied the entire flat this morning, ready for Bogdan’s arrival at ten a.m.
Bogdan (Son of Bogdan) is – as the name might suggest – the son of my former landlord, Bogdan Senior, and now one of my greatest friends. He’s a part-time handyman and a part-time hairdresser (secretly, because his Moldovan crime-lord father would have a thing or two to say about the hairdressing if he knew about it), and both those skills have come in very handy to me since I got to know him. This morning, he’s popping over to help me put up a little flat-pack IKEA desk in the studio, so that I can work properly out of there until I decide exactly what to do with the space.
And, although he doesn’t know it yet, to discuss last night’s mystical arrival on the sofa. Because Bogdan is the only person in my life who’s undergone the full magical Chesterfield experience. My memory is forever imprinted, in fact, with the image of him sitting on the sofa, chattering away nineteen to the dozen with Marilyn Monroe, and – always the hairdresser – attempting to persuade her to ditch her trademark blonde (‘too much cliché, Miss Marilyn’) and become a brunette. Bogdan’s sang-froid in the face of the mind-boggling was nothing less than astounding and, though we’ve rarely spoken about it since, it’s been a huge relief to know that he’s in on the whole bizarre situation too.
I’ve just put the kettle on for one of Bogdan’s strong cups of black tea when there’s a knock all the way downstairs and I head down to let him in.
When I open the front door, he’s standing on the pavement outside wearing his usual air of mild-to-moderate tragedy, along with a pair of (extremely brave) rainbow-striped cargo trousers, and a T-shirt that informs me that Harry Styles Is Cute ... But His Boyfriend Is Cuter.
I still can’t quite believe that his father hasn’t noticed anything about Bogdan yet. Though I suppose it’s possible that Bogdan leaves the family house in the morning wearing traditional Moldovan dress, or whatever else his scary dad would approve of, and then puts on his rainbow-themed, Harry-Styles-appreciating garb when he’s at a safe distance.
‘Good morning,’ Bogdan informs me now, in his usual lugubrious manner. ‘This is most exciting occasion.’
‘New flat,’ he reminds me. He uses a huge hand to wave at the street. ‘In tiptop surroundings. Are you meeting celebrity neighbours?’
‘I don’t think I have celebrity neighbours.’
Bogdan makes a tsk noise before heading through the door and closing it behind him. ‘Of course you are having the celebrity neighbours. Is Notting Hill, Libby. Am thinking you will be bumping into Claudia Schiffer when you are popping to Whole Foods for guarana smoothies and cashew nuts. Am thinking you will be exchanging the nod with Elle Macpherson when you are going for early morning run. Am thinking …’
‘Hang on,’ I say, leading the way up the stairs. ‘What makes you think that now that I live in Notting Hill I’m automatically going to become some sort of healthy-living obsessive?’
‘But this is exactly what you must be doing!’ He sounds appalled that I’ve not considered this. ‘You are very pretty girl, Libby, but I cannot be making words into mincemeat.’
‘You’re not going to mince your words, you mean?’
‘Yes. Am saying that if you are successful jewellery designer living in Notting Hill, you are needing to be looking part.’ He gives my outfit – jeans and a grey hoodie, which to be fair to me I only slung on because I was tidying up this morning – a disapproving once-over. ‘Come to be thinking of it, guarana smoothie and early morning jog may be too advanced for now. Perhaps we are needing to be focusing on grooming basics before we are worrying about this.’
‘Thanks, Bogdan, but I don’t actually need your help with grooming basics …’
‘Am begging to be different. You are being in very urgent need of help with hair, for starters, Libby.’ He stares, in a woebegone fashion, at my straggly mouse-brown ponytail. ‘Am not able to be punching the pulls …’
‘Pulling punches,’ I correct him, and then, because I can’t deal with too many more incidents of
Bogdan mangling his English idioms this morning, I go on, ‘Look, we can discuss my hair later. Right now, I need to talk to you about something more important.’
‘More important than hair?’
‘More important than hair, Bogdan, yes.’ I go over to the sofa and put a hand on the over-stuffed back. ‘It’s happened again.’
‘What is happening again?’
‘The sofa. You know. The … thing it does.’
His impassive face barely registers this, but then to Bogdan a magical sofa isn’t anything earth-shattering. He takes these things in his rainbow-coloured stride.
‘Someone new is appearing?’
He gazes down at the sofa. ‘Is Elizabeth Taylor?’
‘Is Jean Harlow?’
‘Is Ava Gardner?’
‘No.’ I lower my voice, though I couldn’t really tell you why. ‘It was … Grace Kelly.’
Just for a moment, Bogdan looks impressed. ‘I am loving her.’
‘Right, well …’
‘Seriously. Am being in love with her. She is my … how are you saying? Perfect woman.’
I glance at his Harry Styles Is Cute T-shirt. ‘Er … are you quite sure you have a perfect woman?’
‘There is no need for the being snarky. Am I ever asking you the personal questions about your specific sexual persuasions?’
‘Well, OK, no, you don’t ask me questions about my sexual persuasion, as such, Bogdan, no. But you’ve never exactly been shy about digging for details on my sex life with Dillon.’
My ex-boyfriend Dillon is – along with Harry Styles, Harry Styles’s ‘boyfriend’ and now, apparently, Grace Kelly – another person Bogdan has a heartfelt crush on.
‘Am falling in love with her,’ he goes on, lyrically, ‘from the moment am first seeing her in Mogambo. Was even trying to be growing moustache like Clark Gable, but is difficult as was only eleven at time.’
‘I wouldn’t have thought growing a Clark Gable moustache was difficult at age eleven. I’d have thought it was impossible.’
‘No, no. For me, this is perfectly possible. Is simply difficult as world is not ready for eleven-year-old boy with Clark Gable moustache. Am being on receiving end of the terrible mocking in streets of Chişinău. Perhaps would have been different in London.’
‘I highly doubt that, to be honest with you.’
‘But Grace Kelly …’ Bogdan heaves a sigh. ‘Has ever there been such classical beauty? And such style! When am thinking of her in that wedding dress, am feeling—’
‘Yes, well, that wedding dress is what she popped up in last night,’ I say, hastily, before Bogdan can go any further down the route of the way Grace Kelly in her wedding dress makes him feel. ‘Right here on the Chesterfield.’
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