I’m in Belfast. Two days catching up with colleagues who work in BBC Northern Ireland’s press and publicity office, sharing titbits of graphics and video production, social media, and website-related pearls of wisdom.
Such experiences aren’t the ego-massage opportunities you might be forgiven for assuming they are. Years ago I always looked on elders who did similar kinds of work and marvelled. They were the sixth formers. The ones who had put the extra study in and now, through hard work, dedication and good grades had earned afternoons off and the duty of showing prospective parents and their nervous offspring around the school.
I looked on those elders then and wondered what it was like to be them. Now I find myself doing the present-day adult equivalent and having to pinch myself.
An old friend bought me lunch today. He told me about what’s going on for him; I explained what was going on for me. I wolf my crab linguine, guzzle two tomato juices pumped with Tabasco, and offer to split the bill. “No,” he says, “I’ll get this.” The man is too kind. Always.
When I return to the office, my newly-acquired office buddies are quick to ask me where I dined. “Oh,” they gasp, “you ate there? That’s fine dining.” So inspired, I trot along again for a second evening helping.
These are the bitter-sweet moments. I adore the opportunities dinner for one presents: chat with the next door table, notebook scribbles, wistful looks through the window. At the same time, there’s a wish that The Husband could be there with me to experience it too. What use is travel if the one you love can’t experience these special moments with you?
It would of course be an entirely different experience if he was with me. So I should appreciate the moment for what it is, look forward to the approaching weekend at home and the week that follows in another foreign clime.