“That’s because Lanying keeps me on a diet of tofu, fish and bitter green vegetables.”
“I couldn’t eat like that,” she said. “I love English roast dinners. Beef and Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes. I’ve got to have meat.”
“But you don’t put on weight. You have a perfect figure.”
“No, my belly’s bigger than yours. Look!”
I looked and I can still see it now. I think about it often, that belly. Smooth and shapely. Seductive. Slim. Gorgeous.
Last night the three of us were on the tube discussing Sex and the City 2. “I don’t like the way they approach other cultures,” Mingzhu said. “They went all the way to Abu Dhabi and they just wanted to behave like they were in a nightclub in Manhattan.”
Opposite us were four young men who had been drinking. They were staring at us. Well, not so much at me. “That’s what you want,” said one of them, who was a Geordie and was wearing a trilby. “You want to get off the beaten track.”
Mingzhu and Lanying couldn’t understand his accent but they nodded. He started to talk some more so Mingzhu said “What?”
“Get off the beaten track,” he repeated amiably.
They still didn’t understand.
“Get off the beaten track,” I said.
“Ah,” Mingzhu said, still puzzled. “Yes.”
We explained that we’d been to see Sex and the City, which led to a discussion about the best of British films since the original Ladykillers, which Lanying so admires. The Geordie had good taste. Unfortunately Mingzhu and Lanying couldn’t understand him. He warmly recommended Shogun Assassin and I told him I would put it on our rental wish list.
At London Bridge, Mingzhu had to get off. She gave me and Lanying a quick kiss and hurried to the doorway. The Geordie stared after her. “Stop drooling!” One of his friends told him. “It’s obvious what you’re thinking. She’s gorgeous.”
At the cinema Mingzhu had bought me a chocolate ice cream. She didn’t ask me, she just bought it. I had no choice but to eat it. It was delicious.
It was a quiet cinema where everyone is usually very well behaved. But last night there were groups of women drinking cocktails and hooting. They cheered loudly when Sarah Jessica Parker appeared on the screen. “Don’t they know it’s a film?” Mingzhu whispered to me. “She can’t hear them.” Mingzhu has never seen a single episode of Sex and the City, unlike Lanying, who has sat through every episode several times, with me at her side.
“I should have married Mingzhu,” I told Lanying today as we sat down to an octopus salad.
“I could have had roast dinner every weekend.”