Carol is my favourite lesbian. She came out to me last Christmas, when we sat up all night chatting.
"I've always had stronger feelings for women than men," she told me. "It's taken me nearly 30 years to realise what that meant. Also I feel like a man in a woman's body."
"You look like a woman in a woman's body," I say. "You're not exactly feminine but you are lovely."
She stares at me. "Are you coming on to someone who's just said she might be coming out?" she says. "What kind of idiot does that?"
"I was just trying to be nice to you," I say.
"Sorry," she says. "I'm a bit stressed. I don't know what to do. It's a big step. My mum will be disappointed. Having kids will be harder."
I'm not sure how it took me all night, but I said she had to do what was right for her. Not her mum or anybody else. I guess a lot of the chat was about making the right noises to support a decision she had made already.
"Thanks for listening," she tells me, as the morning light filters through the green living-room curtains. "Sorry I kept you out of bed."
"You say 'sorry' more than anyone I know," I tell her. "Being openly lesbian in a small town will be hard enough. Stop apologising. Get assertive."
"Do you know why I decided to come out to you?" she says, giving me a big cuddle.
"Was it my fatherly warmth, sympathetic eyes and wisdom beyond my years?" I ask.
"No, it was because every other bugger had gone to bed," she says. "And I needed to tell somebody before I burst. It was you or the guy behind the couch, who threw up earlier in the spider plant."
I lean back and look down. "But he's unconscious and encrusted in vomit."
"I know," she says. "It's why I talked to you."
"That's a bit disappointing," I say.
"Sorry," she says.