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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.

Slow days

This week seems very long and it is only Wednesday – at least, I think it’s Wednesday because it’s bin day. It’s definitely bin day – I heard one of the collections earlier. A highlight of course.

My excitement at featuring on a BBC podcast was short-lived. Superseded briefly by achieving more than 3000 views of a comment I made on Twitter, even a smattering of ‘Likes’. There is clearly a knack to doing these things: a formula to follow. But it is all also somehow meaningless. I suspect that any serious Twitter fame would come with an enormous downside to match.

This won’t stop me from setting myself targets related to this Blog, or to Twitter and podcasts, but this is largely to ensure I do something – anything at all – to fill my days with writing of some sort or another whilst I can’t get out to explore a bit more. I am completely tired of trudging the streets, although it helps when I have a delivery to make because that gives a purpose, and walking in the Park at the moment is a very muddy affair.

This year it will be the sixtieth birthdays of many of my friends. I still have a large group of friends from my university days and it is wonderful that we have remained in touch over the forty plus years since we first met. We have an age range of about four years, and a few have already clocked up the big six-oh, but 2021 is the biggest group. I suddenly remembered one such birthday at the end of last week (a non-Facebooker, so had to rely on my memory – well done me, good at trivia), and pinged off an appropriately abusive text. As a result, we arranged a phone catch up today and it was great to catch up on a year of each other’s very different lives. It has made me think that I really should arrange similar one-to-one chats with others. We’re not really into Zoom as a group (we thought about it and decided we have to do enough of those for our day jobs – haha most of them still working) and it’s easier to speak with just one person at a time.

Interesting that I’ve heard in the media recently that this is a trend – to go back to the old-fashioned telephone call. I’m just SO on-message these days.

(Or boring? Never!)

We also jumped on the latest Netflix film release The Dig last night, which seems to be what everyone else is doing, but it seemed relevant here because Mr J grew up near Sutton Hoo and was particularly keen to test Mr Fiennes’ Suffolk accent (he passed with flying colours and some of the turns of phrase elicited actual chuckles of approval). Apparently there had been a flurry of activity on Mr J’s old Suffolk friends’ WA chat group about the location shots for the film and where each group member had done what in their teens. As someone who hails from the west of England myself, I was slightly horrified at some of the tales from these East Anglian savages, but hey – it was another example of friendship and bonding in these troubled times I suppose.

So, I have now proved that despite the slowness of the days, there are some interesting ways to pass the time.

Now it’s back to trying to decide what to do with the rest of yet another rainy day. I have a supermarket trip next. The excitement is immense.

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