Thursday, June 07, 2007

"Roof of my mouth"

"Roof of my mouth"

I get off of the bus a stop too early but reason that it does not matter and that I will walk through the grounds. It is better that sitting on a marginally smelly bus for any longer.

Snow Patrol blasting in my ear I make my way down the path. Immediately the cold and the creeping sense of familiarity assaults me.

As I round the corner of the Abbey I see a group of people standing where my instinct tells me the dressing rooms should be. From the radios and clipboards I can guess that they are employees of Leeds Council. And there, in the midst of it, is N.

Today is to be the first time that I have seen N since Wagamama. When I agreed to come neither of us alluded to our last meeting, standing as it does as a lowpoint in what had been largely cordial relations between us.

I sit on one of the benches, ready to wait for his first meeting to be over, and take out my book. I've read a couple of pages when I look up.

"Come and join us" N says.

I nod and collect my things as we go on a walk of the Abbey detailing what will go where.

"Is this your first time with them?" one of the women asks me.

I shake my head "No, I worked here last summer".

It strikes me that it is odd how so much can be condensed into such a small sentence. So much that just walking around the place makes me smell the hot chocolate.

Logistics discussed and meeting over, N drives us back into Leeds where we spend five minutes trying to get into a car park and another five minutes trying to find a space. I realise my window for getting a free lunch is running out quickly.

As we walk across the car park N says something I can't quite hear. This is a regular occurrence which last summer led me to wonder if I was going deaf.

"Sorry?" I say increasing my speed so that I am beside him.

"[C] is working for us again. Is this going to be a problem for you?"

Of course I already know this. I have left behind my moment of unexpected stomach flipping and unnecessary swearing.

"No, not at all".

I surprise myself with how well this comes out. And I realise, possibly for the first time, that I actually mean it. I reason that it is also a good thing that N has said this, acknowledging something that I know we both view very differently.

We go for Italian and talk about what will happen this year before talk turns to some of the other indiscretions on tour.

"It was a little hypocritical".

"I was aware of the irony" I say taking a drink.

"But then people in glass houses..." N trails off.

He is smiling though, so I smile back.

"His marriage went ahead you know".

I feel my face slip for a second before I manage to right it.

"So he did get married".

Saying the sentence buys me time as I'm not sure how to take this, though I always knew that it was a likelihood.

"Yes, about two weeks after the tour finished".

I just about stop myself from spluttering pasta across the table.

"Now you're making me feel horrible".

I say this jokingly, lightly, knowing that I am revealing nothing of what this fact actually means to me. Because I have played my indifference well. N does not need to know that my true reaction starts with a list of expletives and ends with actual physical harm. I now know his omissions were greater than I had previously thought. This is what happens when you go out and play with charming, floppy haired actors. On tour.

"I did wonder if you were going to make me promise not to mess about with the actors".

I have discarded my lunch now, but I cannot quite leave the subject. Self inflicted torture whilst my brain plays with the information.

"So that messing around with them wouldn't be allowed but sleeping with them would be?"

I cannot fault N in his ability to come up with a retort.

He continues "But then that would assume that [C] is actually an actor".

I smile properly, transitory school yard behaviour being overwhelmingly appealing.

"Harsh, but..." I trail off, smirking.

"Do any of you know anyone who has a three or four month old babies?"

I'm startled by the turn in conversation. And also a little puzzled.

"No. Why?"

"Are you sure?"

"Yes". This is getting bizarre now.

"Think about it".

Oh God. Oh God. He is to tell me that C has had a baby. I can take the marriage. But a baby? He might as well throw in the fact that C has a deal with Penguin books, a commission at the National and a Mulberry bag.

And then, looking at N's face, it clicks.

"Ah, that would be funny".

"Just to the three of us".

Though I doubt that C would find any part of it funny.

"Are you sure you can't borrow one?"

"I'll think about it".

N pays and I take him to the venue of his next meeting (it is in a theatre so he struck lucky and I actually know where it is). He asks if I would be interested in coming with them on the Oxford leg of the tour and I throw caution to the wind and say yes.

We say our goodbyes and I walk off in the direction of the nearest bus. And it's - odd. Not horribly so. Just odd. I play with today and all the strangeness I knew it would evoke, twisting it to the strains of Definitely Maybe as the Leeds skyline fades from view.

Because maybe the past isn't altogether another country.

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