Thursday, 31 January 2013

ROBERT

We bumped into Robert on our way into The Bow Bar but we didn’t know that he was Robert then. 

It had been snowing on and off all day, grey and cold but with nothing settling. By the time Chris came to meet me from work the pavements were all covered in a layer of slush, just icy enough to require the slightly stiff-legged walk we do when trying not to fall. 

We made our way to Victoria Street, slipping a little as we went, seeing how busy it was as soon as we reached the steamy pub windows. At the door we passed someone taking off layers, he let us pass with a quick “don’t take the last seat.”

There was one small table left. All the tables in The Bow Bar are small; two legs, a top maybe 10 inches wide, enough for a few pints, maybe a bag of crisps. I sat while Chris went to the bar. There was a group of men to one side, students to the other. All had clearly spent a few hours getting to know the blackboard. The men started talking to me as soon as I sat down “here you go”, “are you here on your own”, “your glasses are steamed up, you need to give them a wipe”, I took them off and promptly knocked them to the floor, they were handed back by the man from the front door. He said something to Chris, put his paper down next to me and went to get a pint.  

We sat like that for a while, sharing that last small table, Chris opposite me, the two of us chatting, the man from the door drinking his pint and reading the paper. I’m not sure if it was the students getting up to go or the men to my left becoming more obnoxious that did it but eventually we started to chat. I think it began with an eye-roll, the recognition that we were all thinking the same thing, there were a few words about the pub, the beers. We ended up talking for over an hour. It was about halfway through that the man from the door became Robert.We left him there when we headed home to make dinner. I don’t know if he went back to his paper or found more people to talk to but I know that we thanked him, sincerely, for the conversation, for the change to our routine, for the pleasure of finding out about someone else’s life. As we walked down the road we discussed how rare encounters like that are, how special when they come along.  

1 comment:

bferry said...

Really, really love this post.