The Obald – Episode 14

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In the aftermath of his bike accident, Ronnie wakes up battered and bruised. Colleagues at work immediately jump to the wrong conclusion. Forgetting his signal arrangement with Melody, he causes alarm. His judgement is all over the place, and the series missteps leads to a dramatic interruption at the evening’s recording session.

RAF Greenham Common. I have no connection, but I did once kinda sorta fall in love with someone who had spent some time there, as a student. This person, let’s call her Jane, was one of the main reasons I got my arse into gear and applied to go to University at the age of 28.

By then, I’d been working in the tax office for nearly 9 years. I was bored, because I was always bored, but I was also blacklisted, so not going anywhere in particular. I had got the elusive promotion from Clerk to Officer, but I definitely didn’t want to go higher. By the time I left, I was living and working in Milton Keynes, paradise by the sea, but before I got there I’d spent a number of years kicking my heels in Luton.

Jane came in as a summer temp, at the end of her second year in university. She was a linguist, small, dark, attractive, highly intelligent, and although I was at that time wasting my life and my potential, she saw enough in me to pique her interest.

I should have waited, I’ve often thought, because when we met I was already living with someone, one of those poky little shared ownership houses, and part of the deep boredom of life was that relationship. as well as the job. But people come along, and you date, and there is proximity and opportunity and you call it love.

Jane was on another level. She wanted to talk about books, wanted to lend me books to read, wanted to talk to me all the time. One day, there were three of us working on something and chatting away, and I said, “We should go for a drink at lunchtime.”

As if this was a novel idea for me, a person who spent almost every lunchtime in the pub.

Jane said, “YEAH!” and the third party immediately recused herself.

And so began the sweet, sad, will-we-won’t-we, nearly-fling that should have been with the One. I was a year away from breaking up with my housemate, but it wasn’t quite the moment. We’d literally just signed the mortgage papers. Jane didn’t want to be somebody’s bit on the side.

So we ended it, and then a year later I was single and she was long gone. There was a post-script, but that’s another story. I’m aware there’s a certain amount of confected wistfulness here, the kind of false sentiment you get on last days. Farewell, so long, don’t be a stranger. But – if we allow the possibility that they even exist – Jane was as close as I ever came, back then, to finding a soulmate.

And the slow fuse was lit and I started down the path of taking A levels at night school and applying to university — because I wanted to meet more people like Jane.

One day, sitting in the pub, she told me about her time at Greenham. She’d turned up to show solidarity. It made me happy to think there was someone who had a bit of commitment, a political heart in the right place. It’s nice now, to follow people on Mastodon who show the same grit and anger about the fuckers who run the world.

Meanwhile, Ronnie is getting closer to a crisis point, and we are near the half-way point of The Obald.

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