Old friends, bookends, obsessions

Waking up in The Principal this morning I had no idea of the carnage that had been going on overnight. Great big old hard walls protected me from the storm as I dozed in my vast hotel bed. The world could’ve ended and I wouldn’t have noticed. I just hit sleep.

Today my plan was to go for lunch with Nathan, my old mate from drama school, and then to get a train back to mine. The storm had other plans. I’ve never had to hold onto my trilby so hard as I have today. The tram to Chorlton was interrupted with concerned messages from the driver about trees on the line, and flooding. I got to Nathan’s. We had chicken.

It was only shortly thereafter that I realised that I was going to end up stuck here in Manchester tonight. The trains are all buggered because of wind and flooding and unfamiliar things and basic lack of infrastructure. It would be magical if the hotel rang me up and said “I understand you might be stuck in Manchester – we have booked you into our sexy hotel room for another night.” But that’s not how But hotels work. So I’m stuck in Manchester with no hotel.

It’s fine. Manchester has treated me brilliantly. I have many friends in Manchester, and some of them have sofas, or spare beds.

Mat has got a place for me to lay my head tonight. Tomorrow I should be able to get back into London town where there is toothpaste and broccoli and I can start pretending to be a normal human being again. 

Today was meant to be a work day on social media things but this weather has fucked it and so I’m using it as an opportunity to physically catch up with old friends.

Nathan lived with me for five years after Guildhall. We forged paths together. We went on the pull together, catalysed by him, reluctantly but inevitably. We both tried to work out how to be a working actor in London together in the early noughties, and have sex in our lives as well.

He’s living in Manchester now with two daughters and a brilliant wife. Today his house has been a nexus of old kind friends and dogs. I’ve been part of the mix.

We ended up in a warm circle talking shit to each other and enjoying the rare reality of each other’s company. Right now husband and wife are fiercely debating about whether or not their daughter is “Catholic”. Outside the storm is raging.


Now I’m at Mat’s. He’s rolling himself a smoke, and gave me a gin. We are listening to Simon and Garfunkel playing live in Central Park in 1981 on vinyl through the most incredible sound system. Mat’s flat in Manchester is the same size and design as my friend Helen’s in London. Helen shares her flat with two other people she can’t really choose. This is just Mat’s.

He’s got a gin box.

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I do find myself wondering what I’m doing in London. It’s bollocks. It really is. You get nothing for everything. But at least you’re near the job…

Good to hang out with old friends from college. I was just starting to worry that I was the wreckhead before I got back to Mat’s and realised we are peas in a pod. He’s about music like I am about story… Love this. I’m clocking off to enjoy his home, the music and the gin…

Hopefully the trains to London tomorrow will be running. Cowards.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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