Where are we off to then?
"This way". John sets off in a random direction.
What's this way?
"We'll find somewhere."
We pass half a dozen or so places but for whatever reason they don't appeal. We arrive at a promising trattoria. "Sorry, we're shut for lunch."
John is half a decade younger than me and yet I caught a glimpse of how we will be in our old age.
John has long spoken his own version of West-Yorkshire English, which I have become adept at translating.
* Giffer: as in "What do you mean you've locked yourself out of your house and in mine, you silly old giffer?" This to his elderly dad who had rung him on his mobile.
* Bint: female form of Giffer as in "The old Bint's coming round for her tea tonight." This refers to his Auntie.
* Numb-nut: as in "That were a right crowd of numb-nuts I taught before break."
* Keks, or possibly kecks: as in "I can barely get my fat-arse in these keks these days. I may need a bigger size."
* Snap: as in "I'm famished. I'm ready for me snap."
In addition - and I realise this has been creeping up on him - his conversation is peppered with words such as "wotsit", "thingumybob" and "watdyacallit?" One part of todays conversation went "You know, I've left the thingumyjig behind and so I can't get the whatsit." I have become the master of the non-commital non-verbal cue: a smile of encouragement, a nod, an "Oh, right" or "Shame" (depending on how I have interpreted the emotion behind the comment). This is a departure from a previous stage of our friendship when I regularly told him that he had thirty seconds to get to the point or I would stop listening. (He is a scientist, say no more!) His language is also peppered with rich Anglo Saxon as in "I'm such a arsewhipe, I've left the b*****d thingumyjig behind so I can't get the f*****g whatsit." This adds little to my understanding but a great deal to the entertainment value of the exchange and it made our discussion in the cafe on the science of climate change something of a challenge. "It would help if those old giffs (pl) would shut the f*****g door." I wasn't entirely sure whether that was in relation to his own comfort levels or a more oblique statement on the unneccessary loss of heat that contributes to the generation of more electricity and therefore the burning of fossil fuels. I have learnt that it doesn't really matter because a request for clarification is likely to lead to more complications or a long pause followed by "What was I saying?"
Also he gets to practice all his prejudices.
"That whats-his-face: he's so ugly. I know he can't help it but he could've stayed at home!"
Today John told me a hot piece of news...only it wasn't so hot as I had told it to him several days earlier. "I knew I'd heard it from somewhere!" unabashed.
In twenty years time John and I will continue to meet. The scenario I have in my head is that I'll turn up on the wrong day but it won't matter because he will have forgotten. When we do meet we will endlessly tell each other the same news, perhaps five times in a day but it won't matter because we will have forgotten what we said. Our conversations will re-enforce the importance of our news because we will both have a sense of having heard it somewhere before only, believing this news to be widely disseminated, we will be the only two who have actually heard it. There is also the possibility that one of us will have made it up. "Those f*****g whatdyacall'ems.......you know....the whatsits. They've started believing in global warming."
You mean Republicans?
"Aye, them, b******s"
That's because New York's been flooded, but it's O.K. It's only a natural cycle.
"You said York was flooded."
We are determined to be very difficult and awkward old men.
We have started practicing.