Your Problems Solved, With Holly Harper
My friend has a new girlfriend called Svetlana from Latvia, whom he apparently met online on one of those mail-order bride websites; after only a few emails she arrived in the UK to live with him. Although Svetlana always wears a rather scornful expression and never speaks, she's got a lovely pair of pins and my friend seems really happy. My wife died several years ago and I feel sometimes like I could benefit from a similar kind of friendship, especially if the woman in question will do shameful things in return for jewellery. Do you think I should give it a go?
I would be quite wary about getting in touch with random foreigners for the sake of striking up a friendship. I had a French pen friend once, called Nicholas Gailliard from Brittany. I wrote to him a few times and told him all about my family and that I have long brown hair and I wear glasses, and that I have two rabbits and a cat called Smokey. He was equally articulate in his correspondence, and so you can imagine I was quite excited to finally meet him on the day that his whole class came to visit my school. Looking back, I should have realised that he was dodgy from the beginning: the fact that he had freaky joined-up handwriting and used weird squared paper for his letters were big clues. Essentially, I ended up having to spend the whole afternoon making strained conversation with him about my sporting hobbies and the various leisure facilities in my town, while he just sat there and shrugged and said 'cool'. To make matters worse, he was wearing shell suit trousers and a Naf Naf jacket, and so any previous ideas about a long-distance French romance were swiftly quashed. If were you, I'd be very careful of embarking on this friendship unless you've first fully revised your Latvian vocab. Also, if your new pen friend ever says anything along the lines of 'j'aime bien le hip hop' you should cease all correspondence immediately.
Hope that helps!