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  • 'Surprise!' said Ruth, the bride-to-be, when I arrived at her villa dead on 9am, as I'd been strictly instructed. 'I got us manicures!'

    An early-forties, blonde lady with sausage thighs packed into a miniskirt was squatting on a stool at the table, box of keratin-enhancing tricks spread before her. The bride's sister, Hannah was perched opposite and the woman was rasping away at her nails fervently. The file slipped and caught Hannah under the cuticle; Hannah winced in pain. The blonde woman exclaimed something in Greek, apologised profusely in broken English, set to with her file once more, and promptly repeated the error. Hannah emitted a little shriek and threw me a desperate glance.

    'Wow, amazing!' I said with feigned enthusiasm, although my heart was sinking. 'Wow, that's great, Ruth! How thoughtful of you.' I drew in a long breath, paused, and closed my eyes tight. 'But Ruth... I don't have any nails.' I timidly held out my hand to show Ruth the chewed remnants that disgraced my stubby fingertips. 'There's nothing for her to work with, I'm afraid...'

    Ruth looked revolted. 'Oh yuk! Jen! Why have you bitten all your nails off? Didn't I tell you to grow them for the wedding?'

    'I know, I'm really sorry', I said shrinkingly, 'I just couldn't help it. I've been kind of stressed out recently.'

    'Stressed about what?'

    'Oh, you know. Stuff. Just... life. Don't worry about it.'

    Ruth sighed. 'Well I suppose you'll have to have a pedicure instead.'

    'Um...' I shifted my feet awkwardly.


    With some reluctance, I pointed one of my decimated fingers towards my sandaled feet. She looked down at the chomped leftovers of my toe nails. Her expression was one you'd perhaps expect to see from someone if you told them you'd just polished off a plate of cat shit.

    'Oh brilliant. Thanks a lot, Jen.'

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