After purchasing tickets to various forthcoming shows*, but before heading into the auditorium on Friday evening, Sarah and I had a quick glass of wine in the bar connected to the Playhouse. It was whilst we were sat there, totting up who owed what to who and who needed what ticket for when, that I saw him. He hadn't really changed all that much since I last saw him some twelve years ago and I recognised him almost immediately. His hair was shorter now, but it still had that distinctive dusty orange colour and he was still whippet thin and slightly gangly. He breezed past where we were sitting, looking around him as though for someone he was supposed to me meeting. I hadn't seen him in more than a decade, but there was absolutely no mistaking William.
I was at University with William and I suppose you could probably call us friends, although we were never really terribly close and had been somewhat thrown together by mutual friends. In our third year we actually shared a flat together in Venice for a few months and again when we came back to campus, although on each occasion we shared these flats with our friends. He was a funny fish really. He was awkward and spiky at the best of times, and he was a loner who liked company but seemed to rather resent it. He was seriously into his music too; one of those kids who absolutely threw himself into the loudest and most angular corners of American hardcore and made a point of knowing the minutiae of every single band he loved. He scorned the mainstream, of course, but reserved most of his vitriol for someone like me who wasn't exactly mainstream, but certainly wasn't as bleeding edge in my musical tastes as him. He rather fancied himself as straight edge too, or at least rather liked the idea of it, if not the actual practice of it. Like a lot of introverts he was also prone to sudden furious outbursts in company that seemed woefully out of place, as though he had felt the need to contribute to conversation but was incapable of judging the correct tone.
Like I say, he was a funny fish... and after we graduated, I don't think we even pretended that we were going to be keeping in touch and we didn't exchange emails, addresses, phone numbers or anything.
And then I saw him in Nottingham on Friday night.
I've lived here now for ten years. In all that time, I've been to quite a lot of gigs. I'm pretty sure that if he had been living around here during that time then he would be certain to go to a lot of gigs, and I'm pretty sure that I would have seen him at a concert in the Rescue Rooms or somewhere. Unless perhaps he saw me first.
I'm fairly sure he recognised me on Friday, anyway. After walking past us looking for his friends, I saw him walk a little more slowly past the outside of the window where we were sitting and caught him having a second look at me when he thought I wasn't watching.
So did he come and say hello? Did I chase after him and greet him like an old friend?
No, of course not. Two introverts don't equal an extrovert.
* The tickets were for Sean Lock, Mark Steel, Lee Mack, Punt & Dennis & Tim Minchin... although I'm only going to the first three of those. I think I'd better add them to the gig list before I forget.
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