I was sitting here shortly after 9am yesterday morning, listening to the roofers hammering the new slates into position, when I decided that I would make my first venture into Wrexham town centre for six months. I had things I needed to do there and which had been bugging me for some time because I hadn't been able (or felt able) to do them.
For a start, there were the half-dozen bags of small coins which had been sitting there on my dressing table the whole time waiting to be deposited at the bank, along with a small cheque which needed putting in as well. And then there was the desire to pick up a copy of the latest Sky Sports Football Yearbook, a publication which I'd been getting every year since 1975 (my interest in the game is almost entirely historical and statistical nowadays). And there was the urgent need simply to get out of the village under my own steam (or, rather, under mine and Arriva's). On top of which I had decided that - should my condition permit - I would call in unannounced at the office on the way back just to see everybody there, because I have come to realise that getting out amongst people is very important to my well-being.
So I caught the 10:55 Service 14 and got into Lord Street just after a quarter past eleven. I wandered slowly down the street with a list of 10° to starboard because of the cash bags and went into the bank, coming out some £8 or so richer. I then went and rather spoiled this effect by taking a couple of hundred out of the machine outside.
Across Queens Square, along Queen Street and onto Hope Street then, and into WH Smith to see if they had a copy of the Yearbook. I looked there first rather than Waterstone's because some kindly colleagues had got me a Smith's gift voucher. Thankfully, they had what I was looking for and so I paid only £8 for a book which would otherwise have cost £20.
I did walk up Regent Street to Waterstone's, in the hope that the new edition of the Record Collector Rare Record Price Guide might have come in, but it didn't seem to have done yet. So I went back to King Street to find a bus going out past the pickle factory. I didn't have long to wait, and managed to get to the front door of the office by just after noon. I had wondered whether my door fob would let me in, as it was always possible that I had been Yezhov'd in my long absence from the premises; but I got in without a hitch and made my way up to my team on the first floor...only to find that most of them were in a training session. Julie (The Boss), Paul and Siān were there though, and expressed surprise and delight at my unexpected manifestation in their midst. Other colleagues passing added their greetings over the following minutes.
I then decided that, as the rest of my team wouldn't be back for nearly an hour, it would be a good idea just to go around the building seeing everyone (and fatally disrupting their KPI for the day, of course; this was half the joy of it). I hadn't quite realised how long this would take. The warmth and pleasure of people in seeing me about the place was very moving, causing me to boggle at how much I seemed to mean to them (a feeling which doesn't occur naturally in someone who has tended to lack self-esteem all his life).
It was close on an hour later before I got back to my own desk. Julie had decided not to tell the team members who had been away from there about my presence, and so my arrival back was greeted with the same warm astonishment as had been shown by the three who had been there the first time. We had a long natter and a lot of laughs before it was time for me to head back home.
I've paid for that exertion - and a lack of sleep last night which may have been down to delayed excitement - a little bit today, but I was brought out of it by another visit by my dear friends Tez and Wendy late this afternoon. We had a very jolly hour talking (well, I was doing nearly all the talking; a sort of mania of communication seems to come over me nowadays whenever I'm in company) about things in general and about the fun we're going to have next June.
For them, therefore, and for all of the colleagues I chattered away to yesterday, here's a song from one of my favourite LPs, The Moody Blues' 1969 opus On The Threshold Of A Dream, with thanks and gratitude for all friendships.