Wednesday 4th July 2012
Brendan converses with his friends
LIMP, I believe, is the word most would use to describe the grip with which…
“Hi. I’m Louise.”
…shook my hand.
There was something hesitant, almost haughty, about her greeting that unsettled me. I would assume the identity Jenny had created for me, remaining politely quiet, as befits an alien visitor.
“Hello. I am Ulla.”
“Welcome to London. I hope this rogue’s looking after you properly.”
She squeezed Brendan’s arm.
“Why didn’t you call us before, you rat-bag? No, don’t tell me, you only arrived this morning and you need a bed for the night. Am I right?”
“You read me like a book, Lou. I’m hopeless, aren’t I?”
“Totally. But just what have you been up to since we last saw you? Whenever that was. Are you still not speaking to your father?”
It can be difficult on occasions to persuade Brendan to stop talking and he might well have recounted every smallest incident from the last three years of his life, had his friends allowed him to proceed without so many interruptions and interrogations.
Louise questioned him about his home and teased him about his appearance; her husband, Dan, wanted to know with which musicians he was playing; both chastised him for not having telephoned them for such a long time.
He ate some of my cheese and I dunked a piece of bread in his soup. I was starting to enjoy being an anonymous guest at this reunion.
“Right, then. Same again, is it?”
Brendan finished his beer and collected our glasses together.
“How long do you want the place?” Dan asked. “Are you looking for a Chris Muss bolt hole?”
“Er… we’ve not decided yet. Ulla’s got a friend somewhere in south London. If she stays with her for new year, I’ll go back home. Sorry, I’m being a pain, aren’t I?”
“Stay as long as you like,” added Louise. “We’re back on the fourth. Make yourselves at home. You’ll keep him in order, won’t you, Ulla?”
I smiled, deeming it appropriate to show assent.
As Brendan headed for the drinks counter, Louise leaned forward and touched my arm.