On 20 April Jono and I are headed off to Southend to watch TV Smith. The former singer with the Adverts is playing at the Cricketers pub, which is where I first met Maureen in 1980.
I’d love to pull out deep memories of that night. But they are few. It was a warm evening. I know it was September 23. John and Tim Devane’s birthday, which we were celebrating. The first thing she said to me, standing at the bar, was some kind of witty put-down. No idea what. I liked her heels, eyes and hair, among other attributes. The attraction was immediate. After drinks, a group of us went for a curry somewhere on the London road near the pub. We sat opposite each other. I could see that she listened, between the lines, as I trotted out a few obligatory jokes.
Driving back to Romford, I had an idea that we might hook up. The three boxes of sexy, witty and kind had all been ticked. But I wasn’t a chaser, and so let the buck pass to serendipity, fate and their relatives.
My experience is that key present moments can act as reconnaissance missions for the future. The first night that we slept together was in a flat on a council estate in Chelmsford where I became a milkman six years later. Maybe my happiest ever job. The second time we conjoined followed an evening in a Great Waltham pub just half a mile away from where we currently live. Destiny foretold? During this period, neither of us lived or worked in in Chelmsford.
Maybe there is more going on than simple coincidence. In summer 1982 I worked an ice cream round for Tonibells, and was warned one evening by a policeman that I was breaking the law by sounding my chimes after 7.30. This was in Mews Court, a Chelmsford cul-de-sac. I preferred risk, and so carried on regardless. He stuck to his word, and I ended up paying a fine.
Fifteen years later we moved to Mews Court, very near to where the copper had lived. It was there that I tumbled into the financial abyss of credit card debt, linked to risk. Make of this what you will.
By mid-2005, we had moved again. To a road just a stone’s throw from the Cricketers pub in Chelmsford, mentioned in Blog 8. The only pub in my entire life that felt like a local. Decent beer, a Hammers-supporting landlord and a fine jukebox. Not only did Jono and I enjoy copious drinking sessions there, but it served as the base for many an evening of fine marital fun.
So I’m looking forward to returning full circle to the Southend Cricketers, as the days lengthen again.