...saw S a couple of nights ago at the theatre. Hadn't seen him since I left the tour more than six weeks ago.
Astonishing how once I left the tour and came into town, unintentionally the blinkers went on and it was all about Town World, as opposed to Road World I guess. Previously, during the three months on tour, I'd come in to the town production to fill in for the odd show and the band guys, good friends of mine whom I'd worked with closely on four tours over the past two years, would look at me with a faint suggestion of, "Yeah I remember you"...and now I know why!
S was in to observe the town show as the tour is going abroad next week for two weeks, and our resident bass player is doing a swap. Our guy goes out on the road, and S comes in to fill his place while he's gone. Dashing needlessly yet again between stage and bandroom, I chance upon meeting him in the backstage stairwell before the show...his large frame, shaved head, and wiry goatee belie a quietly spoken, gentle manner. For most of the show I was looking forward to a cheerful post-match drink, a catch up on the current tour gossip, maybe even a laugh over an anecdote in days gone by...
Usually in ones and twos we file out of stage door, through the nightly throng of audience well-wishers and autograph hunters, across Great Windmill Street to the small stage door pub, funnily enough called the Lyric. It appears to be pretty crowded outside with cast, crew and associates, and S is standing with the rest of the bandies directly out front.
We couldn't have been more than half a dozen sentences in, just catching up on the tour, searching for a subject to latch on to, and it was on an alternate work offer for S where things seemed to change sharply, and I felt I had to look for something to hang on to as the vibe of the conversation started hurtling inexorably downward. Personal difference this and politics that and money issue the other...we'd worked together six nights a week for three months, I hadn't seen the guy in a month and a half, and this is what I get?
I let him finish his rave, unsure of how to respond to such negativity.
Amidst waves of chatter, we're suddenly on an island in an ocean of show talk, just he and I.
Hours seem to pass....and then....
"So how is it working out in the flat, with your girlfriend?"
Yeah, that's it mate, don't work too hard, it's only been six weeks...and you're joining us for how long? How many of these do I have to look forward to?!
Sure enough, I only learnt today that continuing family problems for S might have cast a shadow over his mood, which could be understood completely...but then, was my hope of a silly bit of laugh and talk just too much to expect?