To say I was surprised would be a major understatement... my first thought was is it a wind-up... swiftly followed by a wave of guilt about what I’d written... only a small wave, I was dumped after all, but still a wave nonetheless.
A couple of messages later and it really was Ruth... I must have been “googled” in a random nostalgic moment and there I was; apparently instantly recognisable despite the ravages of time with a website... and ooh he’s got a blog... let’s have a sneaky look... bloody hell... there’s one about ME!!!!
My memories of the 1982/83 academic year at Newcastle Poly’s Coach Lane Campus are mostly fond, but sketchy. I remembered Ruth... of course otherwise I wouldn’t have written about her. And now it was evident that she had not forgotten me, despite the passing decades and diverging life paths...it’s actually a lovely feeling to know that even for the briefest moment, you can still pop into someone’s thoughts.
We lived one floor apart in the Monkchester East Hall of Residence... I was in room no.9 and I think Ruth’s room was no.12. My best mate at the time, Stephen, was in room no.7 and I must admit I smiled at the memory of the time when the two of us were kicking a football around outside the Hall... Stephen blasted a wayward shot that not only hit the girls’ kitchen window, but flew through it... with fragments of glass coating a salad that Ruth had been preparing...
The youth of today might have said: “OMG... you must feel like totes shattered... yeah... innit...” (or maybe they wouldn’t say that); Ruth was furious, but the teenage Richard just turned away and snickered like Muttley.
By the way, apologies for the “shattered” comment... I do have other glassy jokes, but I won’t include them for fear ofbecomi ng a pane...
I can recall the night Ruth and I first went out for a meal... the place was called Marco Polo’s... probably because of how far we had to trek to bloody find it... and it was the first time in my life I’d ever eaten pasta... and the first time I’d ever left half a plate of uneaten pasta too. I was also going to mention the Christmas party, but I spectacularly overdid the Dry Blackthorn and basically stood Ruth up... not that I was actually capable of any kind of standing. If it’s any consolation, I still feel ill whenever I see a Dry Blackthorn pump in a pub!!!
Probably the biggest surprise was the fact that hidden amongst a pile of Ruth’s old photos were a couple with me... I have literally no pictures from my time at college courtesy of an ex-wife and black bin liner... so it was great, albeit surreal to see the two photos... one of which I’ve added to this blog.
It was genuinely nice to hear about Ruth’s family and how her life has worked out... obviously thirty years is a long long time and experience means we are all very different people to our teenage selves, but hopefully Elaine and I will one day meet Ruth and her husband (who’s also called Richard... lovely name...) and we can chat about the past and the present over a lasagne and a drink that doesn’t contain apples...
So thanks for getting in touch Ruth... thanks for remembering me (obviously I’m not going to thank you for dumping me!!!), but most of all, thanks to Elaine... being able to relive unexpected memories of “the olden days” with the special person who shares your life really means such a lot.