Metro 189


Like in Paul Simon’s Still Crazy After All These Years, "I met my old lover on the street, last night." Actually, I met my old “someone I’d had a snog with at an Edinburgh Fringe in the late 1990s” on the tube, the other day, but it’s close enough.

The Edinburgh Fringe being what it is - three weeks of drunken debauchery, masquerading as an arts festival - this isn't all that  unlikely. Apparently wherever you are in the UK you are never more than ten feet from a rat. Similarly wherever I am in the UK I am never more than ten feet from someone that I've snogged during the Edinburgh Fringe. Often this someone was a rat, which is what helps both the statistics run true.
Unlike Paul Simon's old lover, my old snogger did not seem so pleased to see me, she just smiled. She seemed so surprised to see me, she just looked surprised. "Wow, you look amazing," I exclaimed, because she did; I wasn't trying to hit on her. I am a happily married man.
But just in case I was trying to hit on her she quickly interjected, "This is my husband!" A man in a homberg hat standing next to her, gave me a little wave that said, "Hello" and "All right, pal, back off!" at the same time. I gave him a look, which replied, "Cool, you're a lucky man" and "It's OK, mate I'm spoken for, don't worry." And then a little sneer which said, "Lucky for you, cos I could easily take you in a fight, hat-o!....... Unless your hat has secret concealed weapons in it, like Inspector Gadget. Let’s leave it. Better to be safe than to be hit on the head by a mallet on the end of a big spring."
He responded with a glance that said, "I'm not saying whether my hat has secret concealed weapons in it or not; that is between me and my wife. My philosophy is "speak softly and give the impression that you might be wearing an Inspector Gadget style hat.""
It was initially weird to think that she was married. "When did that happen?" I thought, before realising that it was probably at some point in the last decade and a half. Even though we move on, it’s weirdly hard to process that the world does as well.

"Isn't Stewart Lee doing well?" she said (last time she’d seen me, he and I had been in a double act), “I sit there watching him thinking, “Is he a genius?"
"He definitely isn't," I replied, but she didn't seem convinced. "How about we talk about how great I am for a bit now?" I failed to ask, ever mindful of the unknown powers of her husband's hat.
But there wasn’t time, they had to get off at the next stop.

"Look at you all cool… with your hair," she smiled. Her husband seemed to be pressing a button on his overcoat and then hitting his hat as if something had gone awry, so I didn’t kiss her goodbye.

So we didn't talk about some old times, have ourselves some beers or even really catch up on what either of us were up to  (though at least we were up to date on Stewart Lee). But it was still a pleasant feeling to get this brief reconnection with someone and something lost…

I never found out if she's still crazy after all these years, but if she noticed the way I was looking at her husband's hat, she’ll definitely think I am.


Gunter Schabowski died last weekend. The BBC website summed up his 86 years on this planet with the headline “Berlin Wall Blunderer.” Ouch! There must have been more to him that that. How terrible to be defined by one error. It made me wonder how my own life might be reduced to the most damning three words possible. “Pointless Celebrities Failure” maybe. I don’t think there’s a more damning obituary.