I’m utterly gripped. Why on earth haven’t I done this before? This is a fantastic scheme! I’ll work incredibly hard for two weeks, then pay off all my debts, go on holiday, and buy loads of new clothes.
I start ripping at the packaging, and suddenly a pile of fabric strips falls onto the floor. Some are plain, and some are a flowered pattern. It’s a pretty hideous pattern actually — but then, who cares? My job is just to make the frames and collect the money. I reach for the instructions and find them under a load of cardboard pieces. And sure enough, they’re incredibly simple. What you have to do is glue wadding onto the cardboard frame, put the fabric over the top for that luxury upholstered effect, then glue braid along the back to hide the join. And that’s it! It’s completely simple and you get £2 a frame. There are 150 in the package — so if I do thirty a night for a week I’ll have made three hundred quid just like that in my spare time!
OK, let’s get started. Frame, wadding, glue, fabric, braid.
Oh God. Oh God. Who designed these bloody things? There just isn’t enough fabric to fit over the frame and the wadding. Or at least you have to stretch it really hard — and it’s such flimsy fabric, it rips. I’ve got glue on the carpet, and I’ve bent two of the cardboard frames from pulling them, and the only frame I’ve actually completed looks really wonky. And I’ve been doing it for. .
I yawn, look at the time, and feel a jolt of shock. It’s eleven-thirty, which means I’ve been working for three hours. In that time I’ve made one dodgy-looking frame which I’m not sure they’ll accept, and ruined two. And I was supposed to be making thirty!
At that moment the door opens and Suze is back.
“Hi!” she says, coming into the sitting room. “Nice evening?”
“Not really,” I begin disgruntledly. “I’ve been making these things. .”
“Well, never mind,” she says dramatically. “Because guess what? You’ve got a secret admirer.”
“What?” I say, startled.
“Someone really likes you,” she says, taking off her coat. “I heard it tonight. You’ll never guess who!”
Luke Brandon pops into my mind before I can stop it. How ridiculous. And how would Suze have found that out, anyway? Stupid idea. Very stupid. Impossible.
She could have bumped into him at the cinema, whispers my brain. She does know him, after all, doesn’t she? And he could have said. .
“It’s my cousin!” she says triumphantly. “Tarquin. He really likes you.”
Oh for God’s sake.
“He’s got this secret little crush on you,” she continues happily. “In fact, he’s had one ever since he met you!”
“Really?” I say. “Well, I had sort of. . guessed.” Suze’s eyes light up.
“So you already know about it?”
“Well,” I say, and shrug awkwardly. What can I say? I can’t tell her that her beloved cousin gives me the creeps. So instead I start to pick at the fabric on the photo frame in front of me, and a delighted smile spreads over Suze’s face.
“He’s really keen on you!” she says. “I said he should just ring you and ask you out. You wouldn’t mind, would you?”
“Of course not,” I say feebly.
“Wouldn’t that be great?” said Suze. “If you two got married. I could be bridesmaid!”
“Yes,” I say, and force myself to smile brightly. “Lovely.”
What I’ll do, I think, is agree to a date just to be polite — and then cancel at the last moment. And hopefully Tarquin’ll have to go back to Scotland or something, and we can forget all about it.
But to be honest, I could really do without it. Now I’ve got two reasons to dread the phone ringing.
However, to my relief, Saturday arrives and I haven’t heard a word from Tarquin. Or Derek Smeath. Everyone’s finally leaving me alone to get on with my life!
On the slightly more negative side, I was planning to make 150 frames this week — but so far I’ve only made three, and none of them looks like the one in the picture. One doesn’t have enough wadding in it, one doesn’t quite meet at the corner, and the third has got a smear of glue on the front, which hasn’t come off. I just can’t understand why I’m finding it so difficult. Some people make hundreds of these things every week, without any effort. Mrs. S. of Ruislip even takes her family on a cruise every year on her earnings. How come they can do it and I can’t? It’s really depressing. I mean, I’m supposed to be bright, aren’t I? I’ve got a degree, for God’s sake.