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Saturday, 8 November 2014

The sounds of the city sifting through trees

Started thinking last week about people I haven't seen for a while and would like to, and Bob came top of the list, and wouldn't you know it the very next day I got an email from the man. 

You could have knocked me down with a feather, as my old granny used to say, although most of the time I knew my granny she was younger than I am now, which isn't all that old but seemed ancient to me then. Perspectives eh? 

Where was I? 

Yeah, I lost touch with Bob after the two of us and Iain went to a Dylan concert at Stirling Castle about ten years ago. I hadn't seen him for ages before that though, which was puzzling, because at university we were close. Suffered the stresses of a final year of theoretical physics in a flat together. Played poker, talked about life, music, women, football.  

Like me Bob was a big Scotland fan, scarred for life by some of their dreadful performances, like the 1975 game against England, when the teams were evenly matched outfield, but every England shot went past our gormless goalkeeper Stewart Kennedy for a 5-1 thrashing. 

Bob was one of those guys you imagine you'll be friends for life with, but life kinda gets in the way. His decision to set up home in the same street as my ex-wife, and well within the blast damage radius, restricted my access to him. Inverallan Drive is one of those places, like Kabul and Baghdad, that I'd need an Iron Man suit and a large life insurance policy to enter these days.  

Bob was a tall, good-looking guy, with a serious style of speaking that held your attention, punctuated by flashes of humour that were all the funnier for their origins in a brain that thought deeply about life, people and quantum mechanics.

In our final year at university Bob and I were sent away for a week of nuclear physics at the Scottish Universities Research and Reactor Centre, where we shared a room with another classmate called John, a nice enough guy but more middle-class than we were. His chat was peppered with strange concepts like money, flushing toilets, three meals a day and babysitters.

Not only had John been looked after by a string of these as a teenager, he told us, as we sat on our beds in the cramped accommodation, rather too close for working-class comfort to this long-haired, well-manicured, slightly-scented guy. But he had seduced every babysitter but one. She was only resistant to his manly charms, he reckoned, because she was a nervous, highly-strung sort of person. 

"If I unzipped my jeans she would run a mile," he told us, and I had no idea how to respond. Bob did. 

"So would we," he said.

I am really looking forward to meeting up with young Bob again, particularly as he seems to have retained his sense of humour in the face of life's tendency to toss large lumps of shite at good guys.

"What stage are you at in your recuperation?" he asks in his email. "Are you fully oot and aboot? How's the wayward leg? I broke my ankle two years ago, having sprained it painfully earlier in the day and tried the drinking-lots-of-whisky pain relief therapy.

"I then got up in the middle of the night for a piss and took a header down the stairs. Still managed the piss, only I was inverted at the time. Took two ambulance crews to dislodge me and get me on to a stretcher. Not my finest hour, I can tell you."

Nice one, Bob. I'll see you soon, I hope.

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