Friday evening. We’re half way along Brian Clough Way, en route to the cottage, OldEngland in the back of the car as per usual. OldEngland and K habitually spend the first half hour of the journey catching up on Nottingham gossip, and picking over the latest movements and machinations of the city’s great and good, before suddenly morphing into a pair of latter-day country squires as we turn left into rural Derbyshire.
During a brief lull in the conversation, I have put a CD on: not for us to actually listen to, but merely to keep the stereo ticking over, so that K can pick up work calls on his hands-free speaker phone.
“Who’s this depressing f**ker?”, sneers K, no more than half way through the first track. OldEngland has no interest in pop music, and I know he’s playing to the gallery.
Oh God, oh God, he’s handed it to me on a plate. Calm, Michael. Calm.
“It’s one of the CDs which you bought me for Christmas, darling. You know, the ones that you personally select each year from the Radio 3 World Music Awards? The ones which bridge the gap between our respective musical tastes, and which unite us in a shared…”
“OK, OK. I walked straight into that one, didn’t I?”
“I only put it on because it was gentle and low-key. Because I’m fully aware that your ideal form of music is one that approximates as closely as possible to silence.”
Oh God, oh God, the mileage I’m going to extract from this one over the weekend. As the business wonk chit-chat resumes around me, I settle back into my equally habitual reverie, with a dirty smirk that will see me all the way through Derby.