Paying My Respects

We had turned towards each other during our talk and now my pint, barely touched, rested firmly on his table. ‘So, are you just entertaining yourself or have you got any designs on taking the world by storm then?’ I ventured. It didn’t seem likely to me. He seemed past it; a throwback, but harmless enough. Without much effort I imagined him on the tribute scene or touring coastal resorts in the cabaret circuit.

He leaned forward and his eyes lit up. The determination was suddenly unwavering. ‘Oh yeah, I’ve been putting some things together in the studio and recently there’s been quite a bit of interest from some of the major labels, but you know, I’ve just got to be careful at this point really, because I don’t want to sign to just anybody, it has to be right, creatively, for me.’

Putting some things together in the studio? Interest from the major labels? I had no idea that someone might actually say those things in real life. They seemed like stock phrases copied and pasted from the wannabe rock star vocabulary bank onto the report card of the mediocre man.

And now he was giving me his spiel. I tried to interject but there was no chance. It may as well have been me with the pad and the biro. As far as he was concerned this was his interview in underground Manchester and he’d been waiting for it all his life. Whether I continued to ask the questions or not, I knew I was going to get the answers.

As he ploughed on I began to feel uneasy. He shuffled closer to me, his voice growing louder and more confident with each self-congratulatory statement he made. I looked at my drink and took a quick look at my comrades’. They’d almost finished theirs while I’d hardly touched mine at all. Both of them were silently listening, staring at me with grins on their faces.

Closer and closer came the mediocre man. I felt The Temple walls close in around me. How did we get here, so far beneath the surface? I needed air. I needed to feel the cold rain on my face. I needed to breathe the Manchester night.

‘What do you do, if you don’t mind me asking?’ he asked.

‘A teacher… I teach,’ I answered feebly. I didn’t have the energy to start shitting him.

‘That’s what I did as well. Up until a year ago.’

Of course, teaching wouldn’t be good enough for you, would it, I wanted to say. I found a bubble of hostility swelling up inside me. I realised I didn’t believe a word he was telling me. It was all thoroughly possible, I guess, but utterly implausible. He continued on, regardless.

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