How reassuringly like old times it is, going to a God-forsaken retail park with Stefano.
We mooch about the DIY store together like an old couple, me with a face like thunder, he quietly pointing out boring things that we need like door handles, whispering the price, knowing exactly when I am liable to blow up.
It doesn’t seem five minutes since he was a brave young adventurer from the wilds of Albania making his way in London, colliding with me one day while painting the outside of my neighbour’s house.
I pounced on him and got him to paint the outside of my house as well, then made him take me to Croydon Ikea in his Skoda estate car to buy my ideal Nigella shelf for stacking plates above the sink.
He drove all the way in fourth gear, seemingly impervious to the choking sound as he told me about corruption in his homeland that I didn’t like to say sounded identical to the official policies of Lambeth council.
When we got there, he refused to follow the arrows one way around the showroom. Also, despite being a Muslim devout enough to have a Koran on the dashboard of the Skoda, he was freaked out by the sudden appearance of a ‘prayer and contemplation room’. He went inside for a look, laughing so loud I had to call him back.
When we got home, half the bits were missing from the box and he had a meltdown even though I told him this was normal. Then, as he attempted to fit the shelf, he hit a pipe near the ceiling and a tide of water hit him in the face. He cursed and spluttered water, finger in hole, and I had to run and get Tony the plumber.