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Life as we knew it…

Places have reopened. Restaurants, and cinemas, and theatres. Just as well, given that the weather has been unrelentingly cold and wet for weeks now. Not quite what we expect from May after last year’s compensatory lockdown nice weather.

Just before we were allowed back inside, a group of old friends decided to risk the London evening outdoors and book two tables of six (separately, of course). In the end, ten of us turned up, which is pretty good considering the distances that some have to travel. These are people who first met about forty years ago at university and have stayed in touch ever since. As we started to become empty-nesters, we got our act together a bit better to see each other on a more regular basis over the past few years.

Most of us had not seen each other since the beginning of the 2020 lockdowns. From the first glimpse and frenzied wave, we all knew this was going to be a wonderful evening. All the old mischief of friends who have known each other since the age when misbehaving was normal. Yes, there was some serious news-catching up to do, but also some serious (in a deeply unserious way) reminiscing, some self-congratulatory exchanges of how wonderful we all are – and how lucky, given that one of our number is no longer with us at all.

The restaurant were very tolerant. We behaved ourselves sufficiently well by sitting at our separate tables and only swapping over a little half way through. I don’t think they cared, but one should always be respectful! We were sitting outside, of course, but it was perfectly warm and dry. I’m not sure we would have noticed otherwise though.

What a fantastic feeling to be reunited. I’m not sure any of us quite expected to feel so exhilarated. Or realised that we needed to revert to our youth somehow like this to recapture some lightness of heart. I, for one, have enjoyed some good comedy on TV or podcast during the past year, and it’s certainly not been all sombre at home, but I don’t think I’ve laughed quite so much as I did this evening for a very long time.

The old times came back, particularly when three of us decided to walk back from Farringdon to Waterloo – the other two determined that I was wrong about there being only one train still running and that we should hurry. Silly childish running at crossings (this is a grown man, behaving like a five year old girl), stupid banter, devil-may-care “oh there are plenty of trains” even when it became obvious that there was, indeed, only one train still running. We ran onto the platform – the other two with their deliberately silly running and me almost unable to move for laughing. 

I suppose we were lucky as well – a charmed evening – that the train took one of us to his usual station, one of us to a station from which there are usually taxis for a short ride to my home – and the third to a station which was at least in the right county and apparently only a one-hour walk from home.

It was just so good to let go for an evening. Not an epic ‘session’ of an evening, just a glorious reminder of what it is to have old friends and a bit of freedom to unwind.

Yes, lockdown was life, Jim, but not as we used to know it. Hurrah that the old life can still spark up after all.

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