Thursday morning came.
‘The rain looks quite heavy,’ read Larry’s text, ‘could you swing by and pick me up.’
The house looked uninhabited. The downstairs windows were covered with faded newspapers on the inside, weeds dominated the garden path and the door lacked a bell or a knocker. I rapped on the wood and heard the sound echo in an empty hall. I was reminded of a business trip to Liverpool when all the houses I could see from the bus window looked like this and I suspected (hoped) that Liverpool was shut and that I could return home.
Larry opened an upstairs window and assured me that he would be down right away – adding:
‘Bit of an early start, mind..’
You can pick up with certain friends quite easily after a lengthy period of non-contact. Larry is one such friend. Most of the major details of Larry’s life remain unchanged. Larry is:
- still Other Larry’s lodger
- still earns a frugal living from teaching the ukulele
- still considers noon an ‘early start’
We went for coffee and a light lunch at the nearby library and updated each other on what we knew of people of our mutual acquaintance: Miles and his return to Albion Windows, Lucien and his move to Rowlands Gill, Jez and Joolz and their performance art collective. I told him that I’d been stuck in a lift with Joolz not so long ago, but the journey was a mercifully short 2 floors. I asked if he knew anything of Archie. I hadn’t seen Archie at his usual bus stop for some time.
‘He’s a lovely little fella and you’ve made him out to be a feckless little fool.’
‘…..but we do go for a pint....’
‘…..every couple of years.’’