I have made revisiting the past into something of a speciality. In Summer when the heat is upon us I pop up in various residences peppered around the UK and Europe, visiting at short notice people I haven’t seen for many years. Sometimes the smile of recognition is welcoming; sometimes confused. Most of the drama, though, is enacted in my imagination before the visit.
This year I revisited someone I hadn’t seen for, I believe, twenty six years. Here’s how I imagined it. I am sitting on the sofa opposite two of them in armchairs. They have just let me, a stranger, into their home. She, the old friend, is siting there bemused. He, the husband, bewildered. It is happening in French.
Him: (looking at his wife) C’est qui, ce mec? (Who is this guy?)
Her: (in a monotone, looking at me obliquely ) Je l’ai connu il y a 26 ans. (I knew him 26 years ago)
Me: (beaming, jocular, insouciant, oblivious, eating their nibbles) I like your rug.