The rollercoaster hits a dip on Monday evening. Luis has promised that he will be here for dinner at 8pm – French, as opposed to Portuguese, time.
By 8.30pm the candles are lit, the fire roaring and dinner is simmering away gently in the oven but there is no sign of him. At 9.00pm I phone his mobile but it immediately clicks into answer mode. At 9.30pm he finally calls and says that he only just got back from a job in Niort and is very tired, and perhaps we should make it another night.
‘Comme tu veux,’ (as you wish), I reply trying to sound as casual as possible, even though the rollercoaster feels like it’s coming off the rails.
‘Ecoute!’ he says, suddenly. 'I will jump in the shower and be at yours in ten minutes. Ca marche?’
‘Oui, ca marche,’ I reply, as the rollercoaster swings back into an upward trajectory.
Thirty minutes later he shows up and, as he describes his day - which began at 6.00am this morning - I forgive him everything. His unpredictability I realise, is mostly the result of his job. And given the fact he has just worked fifteen hours, I am lucky he is here at all - let alone in such good humour.
‘C’est romantique n’est-ce pas?’ he says, opening a bottle of champagne. ‘Merci chéri.’
‘De rien,’ I reply. But it is nice that he is so appreciative of my efforts. Time keeping aside, he is very well-mannered and I start to think that perhaps I can tame the Bengali tiger after all.
Biff meanwhile, is behaving very wildly, standing on top of the refectory table, in a desperate attempt to be the centre of attention. Later, he climbs onto the bench, sidles up to Luis and tries to get amorous with his arm.
Luis makes me laugh and everything about him - even his bright orange t-shirt - seems to light up the kitchen. So Monday evening ends on a high and I have decided to stick with the rollercoaster for the time being.