I was in the north east of England on Monday and Tuesday. While up there I took the opportunity to catch up with an old mate from Low Fell, Gateshead. A pal who, regardless of how many months since we last met, ensures our verbal jousting continues as though it’d been the previous Friday.

A kindred spirit with whom I have lots in common. Both of us sharing similar senses of humour, the christain name Gary and our eldest kids bear the monikers Jonny. In a further uncanny coincidence neither of us have represented England at Quidditch…… Or indeed any other sport……. Although my buddy has taken up the sport so the latter may not apply for much longer.

I used to work at the British Coal headquarters in Gateshead with Gary. Our friendship blossoming when I found out he always paid his way at the bar, and him on finding out I was able to recall the Barnestoneworth United team from comedy TV series Rippings Yarns.

Amazed I could recollect the whole eleven players of the fictional 1923 Yorkshire Cup winning football team, we bonded as friends. Not in the biblical sense, moreover in the being just about able to tolerate each other’s company sense.

Being a supporter of Sunderland football club, he never tired of raising the subject of their FA Cup final win over my team Leeds United (LUFC) in 1973. Me, being a LUFC fan, never tiring of telling him to take his 1973 FA Cup final gloating and shove it up his a**e!

Some people say I reacted over-sensitively to my buddy’s taunts, however he incurred my wrath by accompanying the gloats by waving wads of £20 notes in front of my face. An act undertaken for no other reason than to brag of his wealth and taunt me he possessed supple wrists.

I’m unsure why he felt the need to gloat about possessing supple wrists. After all, in 1981, as an 18 year old lad I was crowned the British Coal Staff & Social Club’s Supple Wrist champion. This flexibility a consequence of the daily pushing of mail trolleys in my then role as a Post Boy…… Or at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Gary’s wealth born from winning a substantial amount of money betting I’d be inane/sad enough to be able to name the Barnestoneworth United 1923 cup winning team.

I’ve not seen much of Mr Simpson (as people who call him Mr Simpson know him) since I left the north east of England over 30 years ago. This a consequence of living a fair distance from each other, along with the fact he did my head in rubbishing LUFC and endlessly f***ing bragging about his wrist flexibility.

Thankfully, though, time has been a great healer and over the past few years we’ve re-ignited our friendship, resulting in a few recent meet ups. Including this Monday evening we met in a pub called the Aletaster on Low Fell.

Here we ‘cheered each other up’ conversing about my father’s passing, his father’s passing, my wife’s cancer fight, dementia, depression and how in middle-age his wrists weren’t as supple as they used to be. Our topics of conversation becoming so dark and depressing eventually the barman asked us to leave so they could start the ‘Happy Hour’!