Tuesday, May 09, 2006

We never spoke again

July 2005

The day immediately after the London bombings was the last time I spoke to Sylvia.

I'd sent her a text early in the day, just to find out if she'd got to work. London made a brave attempt at normality that day, but transport was very difficult, with a number of tube lines closed, or partially closed.

I called her just after lunch, we had agreed to meet the next day (Saturday), but as she had left in a hurry the night before, it didn't seem certain.

Her manner as we spoke didn't help much either. She didn't seem happy at all, a little angry even. Not knowing her well enough, I just assumed I'd upset her in some way. 'Do you still want to meet tomorrow?' I asked. 'Oh yes' she said, 'I will call you later'

We never spoke again.

Meeting Sylvia on a Saturday posed all sorts of problems for me, but I felt it to be necessary, if our relationship was to continue. The weekend before, she had wanted to see me, but I had refused, saying I was going to a conference near Newcastle. It had upset her more than I'd
imagined. In truth, I was at the Live8 concert with someone else.

To see her this weekend I needed to book a hotel for the Friday, this would cost me, as I could only claim for hotels from Monday to Thursday.

So I had a dilemma; her moodiness made be think that perhaps she had changed her mind. Equally though, I thought she was probably candid enough, to tell me if she had. So I didn't know what to do.

I decided to set a deadline; 10pm. If she did not call by then, I could still get the last train home.

I spent several hours that evening killing time in Central London, walking and drinking coffee. At 9.45pm needing the toilet, I went down into the basement of the pub in which I was enjoying a pint of 'green king'. I couldn't have been down there more than two or three minutes. But it was enough.

At 11.15pm, just as the train pulled out of Reading, I looked at my phone and immediately realised that I had a voicemail. It was from Sylvia, saying 'Where are you? Can we still meet tomorrow? Call me back'. How did I miss it?

So many times in the past, I'd blamed a lack of signal for not answering a call, but this time it was true. And now I was on a train home; there was nothing I could do.

We never spoke again.


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