A week after my mum died I went to the Funeral Diner gig in Belfast in an attempt to do something normal. I was staying in Northern Ireland for another week or so, to get my head together. My friend Miriam was going to Prague the following day and I was going to stay at her place while she was away. I spent my time reading, wandering, drinking, remembering. It was as nice as an impromptu holiday could be, except for the reasons behind it.
#162 was someone from the local music scene who I’d gotten to know on-line over the past few months. We had a bunch of friends in common. I went to the gig with him, and then back to his place where I decided I wanted cigarettes. (Rarely-told story: I quit smoking a few months later, right after a dream in which my mum told me to stop. I didn’t know it would be my last cigarette when I smoked it. I’ve never missed them.)
And I made out with #162 in a further attempt to do something normal.
This was followed the next night by the usual panic that I’d committed some kind of awkward friendship-killing act, so I sent him a text to check whether things were weird now. They weren’t.
And that was the same night that I received the call to say my friend Andy was in intensive care.