If you have been following the story of Paul this week, you might by now be wondering just how we managed to go for a decade without speaking to one another. Was it that the shopping trolley was a joke too far? Did he finally move to somewhere that I had no connection with whatsoever and couldn’t stalk him to? Or did he marry Natalie and elope to somewhere where they could breed cute waitresslettes?
The answer is, of course, none of the above. The shopping trolley was great, I used it to keep documents in rather than have a filing cabinet at home. He did move, but only as far as Solihull, somewhere I have been to many times and even worked for one strange day. And he and Natalie never got beyond the first date.
What happened, I think, was Helen. Paul eventually met a lovely girl named Rosie and, one day, they stayed in our flat en route to a romantic weekend in Paris. They clearly left in a hurry and Helen didn’t like this. As a result, Paul wasn’t allowed to be one of my best men at our wedding. After the wedding we only saw him (and Rosie) once, when we met up in Birmingham for lunch in January 2001. After that, we exchanged a couple of phone calls and then nothing. We lost touch completely.
Looking back on it, neither of us could remember what happened. Thinking about it now, I suspect that we simply found other things to do, such as working and (in my case) trying not to annoy Helen.
In the intervening years, I’ve often tried to find Paul, either through the university alumni, or on the internet, but without success. In that time, he’s done far better without me around than he ever did with me – he and Rosie have been married for six years, he has a great job and he even finally qualified as an accountant (though I am still not sure that last bit counts as a success).
So, Paul, should you be reading this, it is good to have you back, I hope I don’t drag you back down to my level, and aren’t you amazed that I got through this without mentioning Julie the Schoolie?