Keys. Book. Phone. Money? No money… Credit card. Yep, got everything I need. And then I’m off down the stairs.

I look fine. Not dressy, not scruffy, just ok. Which is fine as I don’t intend to go out of my way to see anyone.

The route down the stairs passes the living room door, so as I reach the bottom instead of turning right and heading out of the front door, I double back a little and go left, popping my head through the living room door.

“Just going in to town for a bit mum.”

Countless arguments when I moved back in are fresh in my mind and these days I go out of my way not to treat the house like a hotel, as was often the accusation, and saying a quick goodbye is part of that.

Mum was standing in the middle of the room.

“Come here,” she said, stepping forward to meet me, “what’s going on with your shirt?”

A thin light blue jumper sits over a white T-Shirt that I’ve just pulled on, and a cursory glance in the mirror before I left led me to think that things were fine.

“It’s all at the back instead of the front.”

Mum’s attempt to rectify my clothing faux pas is lost on me, but she pulled the back of my jumper sharply, then stood back and murmured something to indicate that it was a little better.

I’ve no idea what she’s done, and frankly I don’t care. I can see in the mirror that it still looks ok (though still no more and no less than that in my eyes), and now I’m free to say goodbye and get on my way.

So I’m standing there - book in one hand, phone and keys in the other.

“Thanks mum,” it’s a polite thank you, but hopefully delivered with an air of a guy who is happy with how he dresses himself. “I’m just going in to town.”

“Where abouts?”

“Just to a coffee shop to read.”

“Who are you meeting?”

“No-one.”

“Oh, sure!” A smile played on mum’s lips. An all-knowing (and evidently mis-informed) smile.

I held up my book for a couple of seconds in the hope that the action would pre-empt the explanation. It didn’t.

“Why,” I began, trying hard to not sound sarcastic, “would I take a book if I was meeting someone?”

“You’re not that sad to go to a coffee house alone just to read a boo…” Her sentence trailed off as she realised that I was in fact not only sad enough, but often partook in hiding away in Costa alone.

I smiled. “I’ll see you later, mum.”

You’d never believe I was thirty one years of age.

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