Ilkley, United Kingdom
With barely time to reflect on the fact that just yesterday I bade farewell to Ryan and Italy, I was up and out of the house bright and early this morning to board a coach to Leeds with some of the smelliest people in christendom. I tried to sleep in the hope that asphyxiation would be more peaceful in that state but it provided little relief or at least nowhere near as much as the ‘gentleman’ behind me seemed to have found in his own pants!
Several hours later, immune to the stench and fearful that I had caught it, I changed at Leeds for a short train ride to Ilkley – the industrial landscape gave way to picturesque countryside with perfect English cottages almost too twee to be true. As the train pulled into it’s final destination, my excitement rose knowing that my dear friend Diane would be there to greet me – and there she was! Ecstatic hugs exchanged, our reunion could begin.
Although a native to this part of the world, Diane and I met in London many moons ago in a writing comedy course. We were drawn to each other immediately through a shared humour and amusement at each others accents (to be honest, I have no idea if she’s actually funny, but she sounds it!). We subsequently wrote 2 sitcoms which were produced and aired on radio in London as part of a showcase for new comedy writers. It was nominated for a Sony Award… which it didn’t win.
Back at Diane’s flat (where Charles Darwin once stayed whilst awaiting the publication of Origin of the Species) we launched straight into a full scale debrief of our lives since we last met. Sadly, Diane has also recently come out of a long term relationship which had actually started around the time we were writing together. Although we had known this fact of each others lives, we hadn’t discussed the reasons until now. Proving that there is a fine line between comedy and tragedy, we discovered that we had each been assuming that the others reasons were the same as our own. In that moment, our tear streaked, snotty faces erupted into laughter again and we realised how much we’d missed each other in the interceding years.
Diane made us a cup of tea but quickly abandoned it with lunch because of her strict ‘no hot food with hot drinks’ policy. This and the fact that she is now meat, gluten and wheat free reminded me of just how much I adore this irrepressible character with all her quirks and passions.
Later that night, it was time to reunite with another old faithful – Bar T’at – a pub specialising in Belgian beers where many a night has been misspent in excess, where Diane once stalked Jeremy Dyson (with me in London and her up here, the poor man never got a moments peace!) and where Matthew once made and donated a champagne cork cage kangaroo that graced the bars shelves for years. The kangaroo is gone now, replaced by a thousand paper crane project (as an aside, it was our friend Bill who had shown Matthew how to make the cork cage kangaroo’s; it was Bill’s daughter, Maddie who showed me how to make paper cranes – not particularly relevant but a pleasing thought).
We were met there by Diane’s friend Stacy and then later by Richard, Ed, Charles and one other who’s name I never quite got. The accents got thicker as the night went on. Bar T’at eventually closed and we moved the party to The Cresent where we continued to collectively put the world to rights until they shut up shop too.
Diane, Stacy and I trundled back up the steep hill to Diane’s place. After copious amounts of gluten free toast and jam, Diane hit the hay leaving Stacy and I to ramble on about women’s liberation until we exercised our inalienable right to crash at 4am.