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The slippery slope

Michael Stuart falls off the pace

It is in the spirit of the urgings of our esteemed editor that – in amongst anything else we might offer – we should shed light upon our descent into senility by noting aspects of our decline whenever we come across them that I begin my post today.

The past 36 hours have not been amongst my finest providing, as they did, stark examples of ‘senior moments’ on my part.

On Sunday evening I went out for a drink with some friends. Whilst in the pub, quite by chance, we bumped into a contemporary of mine who still works in the industry that I left about eight years ago. With him was his partner or wife, introduced as Sophie – a statuesque and well-preserved fifty-something with auburn-coloured hair.

As we met and organised drinks at the bar before beginning our conversation proper, I sensed that Sophie regarded herself as familiar to me – it certainly appeared that I was familiar to her. In such circumstances, if true, I’d like to think I’m man enough to hold my hand up and admit “It’s a fair cop, guv …”,. But I couldn’t. For the life of me, I swear I didn’t know her from Adam and Eve.

Had I possibly come across her before somewhere? In what context could that possible be, if I did?

I fudged my way through the opening of our general chat, hoping either that the issue of how Sophie and I might have previously come across each other would either suddenly come to me … or alternatively,  just go away.

It didn’t. The conversation went ahead for a while. Sophie kept looked at me as though she knew me … and I pretended to look back at her as though I knew her, simply because that was the best I could manage.

Then suddenly the subject came up. It definitely wasn’t on the back of a “You have no idea who I am, do you?” accusation from Sophie (though it might as well have been) because I’m sure I’d still have been cringing regularly this morning if it had.

It all came to a head when she said “I used to work for you, sort of …”

It turned out that she had worked as the secretary to the (female) head of one of the creative departments that reported to me in the company I worked some 25 or more years ago.

I remember the name of the lady she claimed to work for very well – she was a doyenne of her specialist area of expertise in the industry. But Sophie? Again – nothing at all.

How embarrassing is that?

Not perhaps quite as embarrassing as what happened to me yesterday afternoon.

After lunch and my post-prandial nap, about 2.45pm I set off to walk into town to visit the bank and do a little food shopping to last me a couple of days.

I must have been out about an hour in all. I did divert from my main tasks by walking across the road to the Odeon cinema, just to see if it was showing Timothy Spall’s Turner movie. It wasn’t.

(Why not – it’s supposed to be one of the ‘hits of the moment’!?).

Afterwards I popped into the upmarket wholesale food emporium, then Waitrose and thereafter casually strolled home. All was well in the world. The only issue for the remainder of the day was which of the Waitrose ready-made Lancashire Hot Pot and Rogan Gosh meals I would opt for before sinking into my armchair and watching the Southampton v Man United Monday Night Football match on Sky Sports.

Until I reached my street and went to my left hand trouser pocket for my flat keys.

They weren’t there.

locksmithI’d left them inside. Crap! I’d have to ring the locksmiths in Battersea, wait for about two hours and then be charged £120 for the call out and a professional ‘entry’ to my flat front door that would take about three minutes to achieve.

But … oh no … I couldn’t do that – because I was just ‘nipping out’, I hadn’t bothered to take my mobile phone with me either. That was also inside the flat, in the warmth of the central heating I’d left on whilst embarking on my expedition.

I’m now drawing a veil over the rest of my yesterday, which involved going to the man who does dog-tags, shoe repairs and engravings down the road – who in turn suggested a local electrical shop that might also do locksmith call-outs … they did.

Seventy minutes later, I finally made it back inside my flat.

Thank God I only lock myself out of my home about once every two years …



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About Michael Stuart

After university, Michael spent twelve years working for MELODY MAKER before going freelance. He claims to keep doing it because it is all he knows. More Posts