A willowy 15 year old girl, with stupidly long dark hair, nestles in a high-backed armchair in a branch of a well-known coffee chain at a large out-of-town shopping centre. Killing time waiting for her mother to finish having her nails done, she is sipping a large mocha latte and nibbling on a chocolate brownie. Very, very slowly, to make it last for an hour.

As she si[ps her coffee she loses herself in the book she has just bought in the bookshop over the way, a Victorian gothic classic. Sip, nibble read. Sip, nibble read. Once in a while she shifts her position, curls up on the other side of her long legs clad in black jeans. Truly this is her favourite way of wasting time.

Suddenly a braying female voice at a volume loud enough to make sure everyone hears it shatters this cosy reverie.

Darling, it’s Carol. How the devil are you?

The immaculately-coiffed blonde woman two tables away carries on her personal mobile networking at this volume for a full half hour Call after call. It’s clear that she’s working through her Filofax, reconnecting with almost-forgotten friends, ensuring that she remains in their thoughts. She’s arranging playdates with suitably-named companions for her children and holiday activity camps. She calls a hair salon to fix a hair appointment for her husband; she complains at a heightened pitch, long and loud, to a cosmetics company that has discontinued her particular shade of lipstick. And then silence falls again as she sips her skinny soy cappuccino, by this time as cold as the smile in her long-dead eyes.

The teenager has been enervated by this very public exposure of a private life. It has interrupted her concentration and she’s had to recommence one particular sentence, with many complicated dependent clauses several times. She’s finished her brownie and her latte has disappeared. She’s tried a crescendo of tutting and a hard Paddington bear stare but the loud blonde woman, wrapped up in her own business, is immune to any outside criticism of her intrusive conduct.

With a sigh, the teenager gathers up her shopping bags and her book, stands up and brushes the crumbs off her jeans, then marches over to the blonde, a huge smile playing on the mouth dressed in her mother’s dark red lipstick., a mischievous sparkle in her dark eyes.

“Oh my goodness, it’s Carol! How are you? It’s been such a long time, I must have grown a lot since you last saw me.” She flings her arms about to express her extreme excitement at bumping into a long-lost friend.

Carol decides she’s going to brazen this out. She has so many contacts, after all, but she can’t quite place this young woman. Perhaps she’s the daughter of a friend, or one of her succession of au pairs. She is annoyed at herself for losing the advantage to this slip of a girl.

Yes, it’s been ages, sweetie. How are you?”

“I’m fine thank you. It’s lovely to chat with you but I must go: I’m meeting Kevin.”

And with that, MsDD strides out of the coffee shop wondering where on earth Kevin sprang from. She doesn’t even know a Kevin.