Monday, August 22, 2011

today : I meet someone I don't know

I'd like to use the opportunity of me owning an internetweb weblog to announce categorically that I have never knowingly met or befriended a haemophiliac.

Don't get me wrong. In no way have I sought to avoid haemophiliacs. I have nothing against them and am sure that they are all very nice people. In fact I am further certain that many, if not all, of them are worthy of some measure of admiration for living with such a potentially difficult and problematic condition.

But still, as far as I know I have never met one.

I just thought I'd clear that up.

Because today I was in the process of donating some old stuff - a stereo system that worked but was obsolete due to the lack of a CD player, some fine quality but little-used hiking boots that were in hindsight, seeing as I literally cannot walk, an optimistic purchase, and some books - to a charity shop. I know the guy in the shop and it's my first choice whenever I have anything to donate.

(Without wishing to appear too worthy and preachy and that I do a lot of work for charidee without wishing to talk about it, if you are ever thinking of donating to a charity shop it's a good idea, so my contacts on the inside inform me, to only give half-decent stuff. It seems that lots of people use charity shops as a way of throwing stuff away, including lots of stuff that is genuine rubbish and sometimes disgusting, like soiled underwear, unwashed nappies and bloodstained bedclothes. This means that charity shops have to spend time to sort out the good stuff and pay extra to throw the bad stuff away. The rule is that if you yourself wouldn't think of buying something were it in a charity shop, then it's probably best being put in the bin or taken to the tip, especially if it appears to be covered in suspicious bodily fluids.)

So there I was, parked at the backdoor of the shop unloading my donations from the car. My friend was helping, given that my walking sticks mean I have 100% less available hands than your average normal person to carry bags etc. In fact, to say that I was unloading is only true in its broadest, continuous sense. What I specifically was doing was pointing at the various items in the boot of my car, which my friend then unloaded and took inside.

Nearby, outside a charity clothes shop (it is a salubrious area), there was a parked red van. A wheezing circular bloke wearing blue overalls was piling stuff into the back. Once he'd finished and theatrically slammed the doors he walked over to me. From about a foot away he pointed firmly at my chest.
"I know you. You're Darren's mate. Good to see you."
I can quite honestly say that I didn't know this guy. Never seen him before. In point of fact, I've never even known anyone who could be mistaken for him. Moreover, I don't know anyone called Darren. The last person I knew of that name was at middle school aged about twelve. When we moved on to new school we quickly lost touch. Not a surprise given that we were never really good friends: the only bond we really had was that I was the maverick right-sided midfielder in the school footie team and Darren was a pretty tall and fast centre forward who benefited immensely from a number of my crosses, through-balls, back-heels and other skillful and creative assists.

There aren't even many famous Darrens. D-list musical and panto actor/tabloid love-rat Darren Day, Darrin from Bewitched, footballers Darren Huckerby and scoop-faced serially-injured Darren Anderton and pretentious film director Darren Aranovsky are the only ones I can conjure up at the moment, and one of them is fictional and spelt differently.

"I'm sorry," I said. "I don't know a Darren."
"Yeah you do. Darren. Darr-en. Darren from Ellington Avenue!" He'd started to speak to me in that slightly shouty way people speak to foreigners who don't understand English, or the elderly whose ears and memories are assumed to be suspect.
"I'm sorry," I said, rapidly rifling through people I'd known who'd lived in the area of Ellington Avenue but never thought of for years just to see if I missed a Darren. I rapidly came up with a Neil, a Niall, an Andrew, a Chris, a Jonathon and a Dean, but no Darrens.
"Darren the haemophiliac!" he said, as if this piece of medical information would prove the key fact that made me unable to further deny my knowing Darren from Ellington Avenue.
"I don't know what to say," I said. "I am local and I grew up around here, so maybe you've seen me around. I even know Ellington Avenue because a girl in my class lived there..."
"What school did you go to?"
"Greenwood High."
"How old are you?"
"Oh," he looked momentarily crestfallen. "I'm thirty six." He was silent for a moment while we both absorbed the import of our ages: with the maximum crossover for people being in school at the same time being seven years, any notion that we went to school together was scuppered.

Apparently this was his last gambit for creating some historical connection between us.

"Well, gotta run," he announced. "This stuff won't take itself to the tip," he said and walked away back to his van.

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