My friend has had a hard time recently.
While bad luck is supposed to come in threes, her’s had come in sixes.
I met her at the shops on Saturday - we were both in Clarks shopping for sensible Black Friday shoes.
“How are you Mary?” I asked, “I’ve not seen you around for ages, how’s it going?”
Sometimes, when you are only half way through the obligatory “How are you,” question, you know the answer from the look on their face.
“Well Kate, all I can say is, it’s a good job you can sit down in this shop because you better sit down.”
There we sat, mid shoe shop, amid what can only be described as chaos.
Children’s shoes were everywhere - both their own and new ones, parents looked utterly frazzled as they often do weeks before Christmas, and shop workers looked like they were wishing it was 5pm.
But we sat there, two old friends, and I listened.
“First the boiler packed in,” she said with a sign.
“Oh God, Mary,” I said, my hand rushing to my mouth. “I’m terrified of that happening. Is a new boiler not thousands?”
“Yes,” she said bluntly, and I kicked myself for asking such a stupid question and reminding her.
“Then,” she went on, “a multitude of things started going wrong with the car, and you know how I hate going near those car garages.”
I sure did. Mary was famously told by a crooked car mechanic that her central locking wasn’t working because of interference from satellites in space.
“So that was £500 to get that fixed and I could have done without that.
“Well who needs that at any time,” I said, “never mind this time of year?”
“And with the George Foreman going in the summer, I honestly wanted to run away when my oven broke down.
“I’ve ordered another one from one of those sites who deliver quickly, but I tell you Kate, I could have wept.”
I didn’t blame her; I was near tears myself just listening.
“What a time for you,” I said, genuinely sympathetic and feel more helpless by the second.
“Well,” said Mary, “It’s only money, isn’t it.”
“That’s it,” I said, “that’s the way to look at it.”
I drove home thanking my lucky stars that I, touch wood, had had no unforeseen expenses this year, and that the Christmas presents had been all pretty much bought. Saying that, I may swap what I have bought for Mary for some lucky white heather.