At the end of 1997 I began working in Bath. It was a career move brought about by utter frustration at the firm that I was working for and also by a recognition that, at the time, Helen and I were not getting on at all well and needed some space for one another.
Bath being a long way from my home in East Molesey, Surrey, one of the solicitors working there, Rebecca Silcock, very kindly offered to let me use the spare room of the basement flat in Bristol which she shared with her boyfriend James.
It really was a generous thing to do. Not only was she turning over their flat to a scarcely house-trained halfwit, she refused to take any rent for doing so. Moreover, Rebecca was a committed vegetarian, but was more than happy to allow another carnivore to use her kitchen and indeed to cook for me if she was cooking for Jim (also a sensible meat eater).
As I recall, I stayed for about three months. I was smart enough not to be there every night and never at weekends, so that the two had some privacy, and it is a time of my life that I look back to with great fondness.
At the time, Jim had two albums which he played regularly. One was a Kinks compilation, and the other was ‘The Bends’ by Radiohead. There are many bands that I hate with a passion – Radiohead, Muse, Coldplay being merely the foremost among them. Mumford and Sons make me want to throw things at the radio; Noah and the Whale make me want to shove the radio down their stupid, infantile little throats. But, oddly, the first three bands have something else in common, which is that they have the odd song which I actually quite like. This is one of them, and it always reminds me of my days with Becky and Jim.