Daquise, South Ken, September 7 1994. The mission was simply a quick coffee to finalise groundrules about an interview. Me. Plus her. Her first ever big interview.
I was forewarned, with the pictures. But still my heart double-declutched and changed gear too soon the minute she shimmered in from the lazy dazzle of the street with its fumes and buttery sun.
She had liquid eyes that teemed with life, a face as mobile as a kaleidoscope, a smile where the mouth and the eyes tried to outdo each other. 30 minutes became 180, and that was an afternoon and a heart I wouldn't get back. Yada, yada, yada and then some.
Then the phone conversations began. Zippy and sweet and as vital as champagne, every day. Who'd believe this? A gravely beautiful young woman is interested in me because I was professionally interested in her, and am now emotionally interested in her too.
We kept agreeing to meet up, we didn't hold. She had a premiere - saw her, made my congratulations and hugs and left. Then, before I was due to leave for a year abroad in France, the allusion to the boyfriend crept in (as it always has to). Daquise, again, where I left her a stack of CDs to look after and to enjoy while I was away. That was just fine, she said, as was what I said afterwards. What will you miss most about London, she said. Why, you of course.
If I've ever been held in a more passionate embrace I can't remember it. The sheer instantaneousness was what got me.
Will I see you again?
Are you still going to write about me?
Taste of Zubrowka, low sun, the pull of France. That florist over there...
So I went ahead and ordered the pricey flowers, had them turn up when I was in mid-Channel the next morning. I rang her, she was ecstatic, when are you coming back.
In November, for my birthday, I told you. But come the day, she had glandular fever, could barely speak, poor girl. Not to worry, I said, with your boyfriend, you've got enough TLC to keep you going. Oh, she said, there's room for plenty more where that came from.
Over cidre bouché and tinned spag bol in the student block, on red-eye Eurostars, I kept seeing the many faces and the eyes you could drown in. And over, and over, and over.
Christmas 1994 looked like being the best ever. Instead, I got my CDs back and a letter which read - I'm paraphrasing - 'fuck off, there was never anything between us, and I'm offended that you think there ever was'. Gee, thanks, Santa.
I did the piece. It was a goodie. The pic was magic. I asked my editor, a few months later, if this sort of thing happened often. 'Oh, very often. It's something to do with the sensation of suddenly being the centre of attention. They take an immediate liking to the person who's doing it.'
But do they? Do they really? Well, apparently so.