You don’t have to see some friends to recognise them. The sound of their voice is enough to tell you they are in the vicinity. That’s when you have a decision to make. Do you turn on your heels and hope they haven’t seen you or smile and say “Hello”? If that seems a strange thing to say then you don’t know my friend Shazza.
For those of you who don’t already know or have yet to meet her and those new to my blog, Shazza is a Geordie lass from the north east of England, a friend and occasional travelling companion. She’s quite a diverse character, far more so than meets the eye. And believe me there’s a lot to meet the eye! Suffice it to say she’s been invited through more doors than most and not because of her looks, but because of her credentials. As I have said before and I make no excuse for saying it again, hidden depths, ‘wor Shaz’. Equally at home discussing who should wear the no 9 shirt for her beloved Magpies or quantitative easing with Mervyn King or HM Treasury. Anyway I digress.
Shazza was one of those friends who tends to drift in and out of your life and I hadn’t actually seen her for quite a while, not since I had helped her out at the airport . She had left Italy in a hurry and rung me to say she was in arrivals wearing a fur coat and half a set of underwear, (not exactly conducive for a winter’s night in Newcastle). No, I hadn’t seen her; not until today. Only as I began to say earlier, it wasn’t so much a case of actually seeing her as hearing her.
I was in Cheltenham for the Literary Festival sitting having a coffee alfresco. It was warm in the sunshine, not all the leaves had fallen from the trees and there was the quiet hubbub of gentle conversation. Suddenly a strident voice rose rang out.
“Howay man, yer dirty divil. Yers cannae do that. Where do yer think y’are!”
The chattering ceased immediately and people stopped in their tracks. There was a sharp expletive followed by the sound of a tray crashing against bone. People started to stand up and crane forwards. I shrank back further into my seat trying to hide behind my festival programme. This could only go one way, and I knew whose way it would go. A second crash sounded, this time accompanied by a grunt.
“I told yers. And watch the obscenities, pet. There’s no need and I’ve heard them all before. And if yer pal’s thinking of adding his two penn’orth I suggest he doesn’t. Now, what’s it to be….!” There was no need to finish the sentence.
A few people had seen enough and started to drift away fearing things might escalate leaving me in Shazza’s direct line of sight. Literary Festival programmes are only so big when opened out after all.
“Well, I niver. Bugga me, if it isn’t….. I’ll be with yers in a sec, pet. I’ll just finish ma chat with these two bonnie lads.”
I didn’t hear the end of the conversation, but whatever was said certainly had an effect as the two youths departed in a desperate hurry, one rubbing his head. Shazza weaved her way through the tables till she was standing in front of me, hands on hips and with a bent tray.
“What a lovely surprise and I think we’ve got some catching up to do. This calls for an evening chez Raymond’s, and on me, pet.”
Before I knew it and without chance to utter a word I found myself being propelled down Montpellier arm in arm. My Cheltenham Literary Festival was about to come alive. Yes, old friends, me and Shazz!
To be continued….