I arrived a little late for lunch in the cafeteria today. Gus and Jack were about to leave, but they decided to stay and update me with the latest gossip. It seems that Richard might have a girlfriend! They even pointed her out to me. She was working in the cafeteria, clearing the dirty plates from the tables.
I expressed surprise that Richard might have a waitress as a girlfriend as he is quite a serious and intellectual person. But Jack said that this young woman is a psychology PhD student and she is working in the cafeteria at lunchtime to help her pay her way. She also does a bit of part-time teaching in the psychology department.
Apparently they had met on Saturday at the Ship pub where they had both gone to watch the Manchester City v West Ham game which was being screened by Sky TV. Although Richard is an avid Leyton Orient supporter he rarely gets to go to their matches these days due to work commitments. Nor does he often go to see televised games at the pub. But Jack had persuaded him that he needed a bit of a break and so they had gone off together for the match.
At half-time Richard had gone to the bar to buy a round of drinks and he returned in the company of Barbara (or "Bubbles" as she said she likes to be known). Jack told me later that this is because she is an avid West Ham fan and the West Ham theme song is "I'm forever blowing bubbles".
Bubbles had been at the bar herself buying a drink and she had recognised Richard from her time working in the cafeteria. She had introduced herself and engaged him in conversation. Having established that they were both originally from the same part of London Richard had suggested that she join him and Jack for the second half. Jack said that he had then felt a bit of a gooseberry as Richard almost turned his back on him as he and Bubbles exchanged comments about the action. (I had to ask Jack what he meant by the term gooseberry as it wasn't a term I had come across before!).
Anyway, at the end of the match Bubbles had asked them if they would like to go back to her place for a cup of tea. Jack had said that he couldn't as he had to get back home. But to his surprise he heard Richard say that he would love to have some tea and so Richard and Bubbles had gone off together.
And now Richard had failed to turn up for lunch at the agreed time, which was very uncharacteristic. He hadn't even let Jack know that he wouldn't be coming.
Jack wondered if Richard was embarrassed to be in the cafeteria while Bubbles was working there. Or maybe the tea visit had been a disaster and Richard was trying to avoid Bubbles for that reason. Or perhaps it had been a big step forward in his love life. We were all dying to find out.