Christmas drink in London with ex-colleagues on Wednesday night. Train to London Bridge. Tube to Waterloo. Rush hour more ghastly than ever but I still miss the buzz. The Camel, in Lower Marsh. Tenner in the whip, pints of Guinness, crisps and peanuts. Friends from New York returning for Christmas, all getting older, the past another country.
Like misshapen jigsaw pieces we try to fit back together but the picture has changed. Some of us are the same as ever, some promoted, some moved on, some have got out of the rat race altogether. Lubricated by alcohol and goodwill the edges are smoothed and new links discovered.
When men get married they re-invent their past and populate it with numerous girlfriends. I know of several who have never previously had girlfriends and yet they meet a girl and immediately get married. Then, their masculinity confirmed, they feel free to pontificate at length on the subject of women. It was one of these who, safely married, got rather excited about the fact that I live in Brighton and started insinuating I was gay. Having lived in Brighton for ten years I’m used to this. I usually find myself being deliberately ambiguous. Someone said I looked like Alan Carr and I complained, “What, are you calling me fat?”
The train ride back to Brighton is not so bad when you snooze most of the way.