I think I prefer my hairdresser- mainly because I retained some element of dignity in the time I spent in her company. I did not, it has to be said, retain any semblance of anything even remotely like dignity in the time I spent in his.
I didn't mean to be a plonker, but the only memory I can fathom from meeting Sandy (as, apparently, his friends call him) is shaking his very large hand, and then bursting shamelessly into sobbing tears leaving my brother to mutter something about the lovely cucumber sandwiches at the afternoon tea we'd just indulged in as he slyly captured the moment on film.
I'd been doing so well, too, having refrained from pinching the extra cakes left on the table after his reading. I'd thought about it- I always carry a big handbag with me. I could have had a bonafide feast on the way home.
What I had meant to say to Sandy after queuing to get my copy of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency signed was, "You have inspired me. Your books have helped me. One day, I hope to be able to write in such a way that means I too can help people escape through fiction. Your simplicity, your humour, the kind and generous way you have with words- it has all influenced the very core of my being in an unfathomably deep, thorough way."
I meant to say, "Your character Mma Ramotswe told me, when I was just an eighteen year old young girl trying to make her way in the world, that you can think and think and think but sometimes you have just got to eat your pumpkin. I try to remember that when things get tough. I like to eat things."
I meant to say, "Mr McCall Smith, thank you for the hours of escapism your novels have provided me with. Thank you for helping me see the world in a more forgiving light".
I would rather imagine that a chap referred to by his friends as 'Mythers' loudly and drunkenly sharing my train carriage on the way home would like to thank Mr McCall Smith too, if only through association. Feeling liberated by our meeting, if not a little embarrassed, my inner cup of goodwill overflowed and on listening to 'Mythers' get a bit of a ribbing from his friends about his desire not to go out and plunge further into oblivion with his friends, but go home to his girlfriend ("You're under the thumb mate!", "Don't let a bird tell you what to do!", "Balls to it, stop being so boring!" etc). The banter went on from their alight in York, where I bollocked them for being noisy in the quiet carriage (it had been a long day) all the way to sodding Sheffield.
In the end, I felt so sorry for the poor lad that as I got off the train I took him to one side and whispered in his ear, "Listen love, you do whatever it is you feel like doing. Your mate in the glasses doesn't know what he's talking about". I walked away feeling quite smug, spreading the love like that. It didn't even bother me that 'Mythers' looked at me like I was on day release and then stuck his finger up at me as my fabulous hair and I departed.
So I will take the compliment from my hairdresser, and put the Alexander McCall Smith episode to the back of my mind. After all, I'm Worth It- just.