I arrived at the woman’s flat at the scheduled hour, which was fortunate because we’d never met and, as always, I wanted to make a good first impression.  I would only be a few hours completing this job du jour but before she left for work she kindly showed me around the flat with the list of tasks, ending in the kitchen where she offered me tea, coffee, biscuits, milk and sugar, soft drinks …

‘And there’s beer.  But please don’t drink this one,’ she said, indicating a bottle of some unidentifiable foreign brand.  ‘This one’s special.’

She held it up to her face and rubbed it tenderly against her cheek as if it were a precious garment made from the finest Egyptian cotton that had been left to her by a beloved grandmother and had been passed down from an ancient lineage of hops and barley lovers.  A beer bottle that, of all the bottles in all the world, was destined for her tiny South London flat surrounded by dusty university photos and stale peanuts, the fingerprints of countless generations embossed on its historic green glass.

It was 8.30 in the morning.  I don’t know anyone who is typically offered an alcoholic beverage when they arrive at the office first thing unless perhaps they are a taster at one of the world’s great vineyards.  I wondered if it was due to the first impression I’d tried so hard at perfecting.  Because of my haste in travelling to her place, I did arrive with a bit of a sweat on.  Perhaps she took this to mean I’d prefer a refreshing, luke warm bottle of lager over all other liquids.  Maybe her prior experience with trades-people taught her that all we drink is the hard stuff – even on a Monday morning – because the rampant testosterone coursing through our veins is enough to neutralise the 5% of the contents designed to set our heads spinning.  Indeed I could probably hit a target with my nail gun at fifteen paces with two pints in me.

This woman was not originally from London, a point only worth noting because I am unfamiliar with how they do things in Leicestershire.  But where I come from we wait until we’re at least having lunch in a pub before we crack open a cold one.  Besides I could still taste the toothpaste from my post-breakfast cleaning.

‘It’s okay,’ I said.  ‘I’ll just have a glass of water, thanks.’

‘Suit yourself,’ she said, as if my refusal had somehow let her down.  She was sad because I didn’t want a drink.  Not exactly the first impression I’d had in mind.