It was just a quiet night in town with Gary and Toby, but I kept running into people I knew years ago. There was Rachel, the girl from secondary school that everyone was in love with. She did english and drama and bohemian-cool. Sometimes people look completely different when you see them after several years, but she looked just the same. Conversation was strictly limited to banal pleasantries; it's not like we'd been friends, or anything, but you feel obliged to say something when you just bump into someone like that.
Then there was Sarah. I didn't recognise her, she recognised me: We were at primary school together. I had only the vaguest recollections, but she reeled off teachers and anecdotes that rang bells in my head, and we ended up having a long, involved conversation. She's moving to Spain to be a beautician, apparently, and has been going out with a guy who looks astoundingly like Bill and Ted-era Keanu Reeves for the past seven years. I liked her. She was fun.
Then there was the guy in the kebab shop. I don't know his name, but I recognised his face: I know he used to bowl in the same league I did. Every saturday morning for three years, you'd think I'd remember his name, but apparently not. It was a slightly awkward exchange.
All of which made for a quite interesting night. The final surrealist touch was the two guys playing big tribal-type drums (drums, drums in the street...) on the high street at 11pm, studiously ignored by the drunks ambling about (although there are older and fouler things than drunks in the dark places of Maidenhead...)
Sometime in the past few years, I started thinking of Oxford as home; Maidenhead was just somewhere I came back to visit now and then. Well, I've been back here for about eight months, now, and when I have an evening like this, it reminds me - this town may not be my home any more, but I still have a lot of history here, lying around in the corners.