Writing about my first wedding the other day reminded me of a curious little incident from about five months ago. I was walking along either Fleet Street or The Strand in London*, on my way to talk to someone about a job I eventually didn’t get because they were being idiots, when I passed a familiar figure. As I hadn’t seen him since 2000 it took me a while to realise who it was I had just walked past, and I am sure he didn’t recognise me.
The person in question was Matthew (or if it wasn’t it was certainly someone who looked like him), who at the time I did know him was some kind of political wonk at the National Farmers’ Union, where Helen worked at the time we got married. Which, coincidentally, was the last time I had seen him.
Matthew was young, enthusiastic, almost a dead ringer for Basil Fotherington-Thomas and one of the strangest people I have ever met.
The first time I met him was the evening that he and Helen had decided that the three of us would go to the River Cafe. Suffice to say that I can remember absolutely nothing of the food that we ate, even though I am sure it was wonderful and have mentally blocked the entire event.
We arrived to collect Matthew from his flat in the middle of Wimbledon. He was late. One of his flatmates let us in, sat us down in the living room and wandered off. Matthew came home somewhat later and introduced himself. Then he poured himself a glass of white wine without offering either of us a drink and went to get changed. My memory of the evening basically ends at that atrocious lack of hospitality.
The second meeting was another meal out, this time in Guildford. I can’t remember how this all came about, because it was supposed to be Helen and me meeting up with my good friend and former colleague Nick Hudson for a curry. Because Matthew somehow ended up being there too, we landed in an expensive French restaurant instead. The more the evening went on, the more pretentious and obnoxious Matthew became, to the point where I ended up apologising to Nick the next day for his behaviour.
And then there was the wedding. Where every other man wore a lounge suit and Matthew wore a morning suit ‘because [he] want[ed] to’.
I didn’t stop him to say hello.
*I am never sure where one stops and the other begins