This is Dr Nick Bradshaw, and some other people, you can see their names. Nick's a pretty smart fellow. I count him as a friend - he cashed a cheque for me once - though I've seen him perhaps three times in the last five years. He was living in Brussels for a while, and then South London, both just a train journey away, both just too far to go, it seems.
On Tuesday morning I half-trip on the way into the shop where I work. This small incident recalls Nick to mind and I relay this thought to my colleague Paul. Nick used to see the world a little differently from most people and among his observations was that if, say, twenty-five percent of accidents occur outside the home, and seventy-three percent occur inside the home, the remaining percentage can only be accounted for by bizarre threshold accidents.
Later I dwindle off to the post office, and to light a secular candle for my late father (this habit may require further explanation at some other time). I walk with my head up, alert to possibilities. And I see him, Nick Bradshaw, walking the other way. We chat, briefly, about fatherhood, and other stuff. He tells me that he's given up the academic life and is working for a bank - the pay is better apparently. He is returning an empty box that he bought as a present for his sister. The box was supposed to contain some kind of paper lamp.
"Didn't you notice that the box was a little light?" I ask him.
"It's a paper lamp. How much is that going to weigh?"
We work out that it's more that two and a half years since we've seen each other. At this rate, I tell him, we'll only see each a dozen more times before we die. That's taking an average, a mean life expectancy, not allowing the possibility of premature death for either of us. Nick doesn't really answer this. Perhaps his better grasp of statistics reveals to him something that he thinks I'm better off not knowing. It's pretty chilly on Brushfield Street, the wind blows easterly from All Saint's towards the City. We say goodbye, agreeing to have lunch sometime soon.