Okay, so this was a tough one.
I had my YouTube interview with my brother, Paul, and much as I was as comfortable as I ever am, I looked like I might be on the run. What I didn’t tell you was what happened afterwards…
I was due to go to the Legion in any case. It was a Wednesday, a perfectly reasonable day of the week, as days go. And, as a member of the Events’ Committee, I was supposed to be around for a tasting session with a view to the Club-Branch Dinner in November.
I promise, this story is about to liven up.
I did my interview with Paul – he was very good, I was excruciating, and I nearly told a joke about a vibrator. I was stopped in my tracks when I caught sight of my former science teacher and realised that, somewhere in my head, I’m still sixteen. After twenty years, it’s hard to know how to begin a conversation with someone who knew you at your worst, but I waved at my former teacher. Because I am made of distilled bravery. Anywho, that was the extent of our interaction.
And then, the caterer arrived. He was great. The chicken was amazing. The salmon was perfection. I had my chairman eat the beef for me. We didn’t have farmers in Croydon, so when the BSE crisis hit in the late eighties, that was the end of beef in the Binney household. I have tried to eat beef since, but I don’t have the palette for it.
By the time the tasting was over, the teachers had all gone home, and I was left with a couple of friends, one of whom used to be a support teacher at the school I went to.
“Did you see Liz?” she asked me.
Now, I know a good couple of dozen Elizabeths. Some of them are Lizzie, some are Beth, some are Betsy. I have no doubt some are known as Liz, just not to me. So, I had no idea whether or not I’d seen whoever this Liz was.
My buddy could probably tell from my eyebrows that I was thinking too much.
She clarified that she meant the Liz who had taught me biology.
Now, it’s enough for me to know she has a first name, but I can’t… I just… In my head, she will almost certainly always be ‘Miss’.
“I saw her,” I explained, “but we didn’t speak.”
“Oh, that’s a shame,” she replied. “She really wanted to see you.”
Now, all I had going through my head were former science essays with the words ‘Please see me’ written on them.
“She was chuffed to bits when I told her you were here,” she went on. “She saw your flyer for your book in the hallway, and she was really impressed.”
(I’ve written two books. She could be more impressed.)
“There’s no way she could remember me,” I said, blushing.
“No, she did,” she told me, as shades of horror crossed my sight. “You used to write a bit at school, didn’t you? She was telling me.”
Holy Lord. I left school every day of twenty years ago. She must have had hundreds, if not thousands, of students since then, but she remembered me. I was quite touched.
(This is where I nearly lost my mind)
“She reads,” my buddy told me, lightly.
“What?” I asked, probably looking like a maniac.
“Yes, and she likes all that dark, gothic, emotionally turbulent stuff.”
“Point her at me,” I insisted.
“Well, she’s gone home now.” And my heart nearly stopped.
It’s somehow worse than ships that pass in the night. It’s like ships that pass in the night, but they don’t know they’re ships. I may have to join the PTA.