I think about Nige every time I switch a kettle on. But more on why that is later.
My first birthday in Chelts was only a few months after I moved there, and when I first got there I craved time alone and put off getting out and meeting people, so by the time it came around and I wanted a night out I didn’t have many to invite. So I just invited anyone I had met at least once in Cheltenham, regardless of whether I actually ‘knew’ them properly or not.
I was later to find out Nige had thought this ‘ballsy’ and because I’d put myself out there, he’d decided to come along. I was touched that he had come along.
Over the next couple of years, we became good mates, and it’s only when looking back through my photos for one to put on this post that I realise just how much time we spent together. Nige and I were always up for a pint and a chat, and I valued his advice on whatever latest life situation presented itself.
Oh how we have laughed and laughed and created fun. But one particular day and night sticks in my mind (although there are many to choose from).
It was May, a bank holiday Monday, and the last day of the Cheltenham Jazz Festival. I’d had brunch with a friend, and we were supposed to spend the day together but she’d arranged a date for the afternoon so we mooched on up to the Jazz Fest to hang out for a couple of hours until she had to go. It was shitty weather, absolutely hammering it down, so we took shelter in the bar tent and ordered a glass of red each, before realising our rookie mistake and went back for a bottle. After all, we had a couple of hours.
After an hour or so we were well into it, and my friend had messaged her date to come and meet us before they headed off to the cinema. I mean, being a bottle of red down by 2pm before a cinema trip and having your friend with you is ideal for a date, no?
Knowing that I’d be left on my own shortly, I messaged Nige to see what he was up to. He’d been known to frequent the jazz fest, and I wondered whether he was around. As it happened, he was about 5 minutes away watching footie in the pub. It didn’t take much persuading to get him to come join.
My friend’s date had now met a slightly-pissed me, and now Nige rocked up. I’m not sure the poor bloke knew quite what was going on but he took it all in good spirits, although I’m sure I heard a sigh of relief when they headed off to the cinema.
A few drinks down, we went off to watch some free jazz. We sat and enthusiastically drank more red wine, the liquid sloshing from side to side and over the tops of our glasses as we giggled away in the corner trying to get fully into the experience.
After some time we decided to move on. Mainly because our glasses were empty. We left the festival and strolled out into Montpellier. But where to now?
Harry Cook’s, one of my favourite bars in Chelts but I don’t know why, had it’s doors open in the [slightly] balmy May evening, and some soft tones of music floated across the road in the breeze. “There! That’s where we shall go Nige!”
We drank [more] wine, and I think some cocktails. We danced to the music, and chatted to random people. I think we may have been the only people dancing, but it didn’t matter. It wasn’t the first or last time.
We danced until our bellies got the better of us, and we skipped around the corner to the Indian restaurant on top of the wine bar. It’s name I can never remember.
The chap behind the counter was pleased to see us; we were the only people in there. By this time it was fairly late on a Bank Holiday Monday, and most people were on their way home. I think Nige may have had the day after off work, and I had seemingly completely forgotten that I even had a job (luckily I was working from home the next day). Carpe diem and all that.
I don’t remember much about the curry, I probably had chicken jhal frezi. I remember the service was great. Nige paid. Wouldn’t let me pay.
We chatted about all sorts, as normal, but I couldn’t tell you what about. It doesn’t really matter. We probably joked about, chatted about life and gossiped a little. Nige is a wonderfully funny Yorkshireman with a heart of gold.
The unexpected ones are always the best, and I really miss an impromptu Chelts pub pint or two with Nige.
Happy, happy days.
PS. The kettle thing? Nige has this thing about the water in a kettle being boiled more than once. At a BMF weekend in Wales a couple of years ago whenever making a cup of tea he had to empty the kettle first before filling and boiling for his brew. We looked at him weird. But that is Nige.