It was the sort of summer where the evenings never started, just long afternoons that went from 2 PM to 2 AM. Languid yet never dull, the hours slipped past like Bees’ gently buzzing from plant to plant. Never really stopping, just pausing momentarily before moving onto to the next brief place of interest.
The four of us were constantly in each other’s company. Of course it wasn’t just us four all the time, different friends came and went. There could be five or forty people but all that summer the four of us appeared to be invisibly held together, never move than a glance away. The strands of the web that held us were gossamer thin, invisible to the eye of the others that joined us. Yet to us, stretched and tenuous though they may, they were as solid and true as anything we had ever known.
If I raised my head from the book I was reading, then inevitably Binks would catch my eve. If it wasn’t Binks then the same would be true for either Tommo or Jags. Dancing in a club to the song of the summer, no matter how cool and “into” the song we tried to be, we just knew it. Look up on that drum break and four pairs of eyes would make instant contact.
We soon realised that this was ridiculous and would unconsciously try to break the chain. Yet, it was beyond our power to do so. For that short period of time, our brains, bodies and thoughts were so finely in tune with each other that we were almost a single entity.
Before the summer we hadn’t known each that well. Binks had been to college with Jags. I had become friendly with Tommo through a now lapsed friendship with a mutual gig goer. Jags was in one of the local bands that Tommo and I used to go and see at Kino. The venue was so small that it was impossible not to bump into people between the sets, Jags was funny and welcoming, delighted that we enjoyed the gentle and reflective work that the band produced.
After a gig at the start of June, Jags mentioned that the other two in the band were heading overseas the next day for a summer of inter-railing, so a quiet summer was on the cards. Tommo suggested going to a park in town the next night as there was going to be a free music event and a bar, the weather was meant to good. It may not be Paris, Rome or Berlin but we could try to have some fun right here. Binks overheard the suggestion and was obviously keen to go. Suddenly our summer was about to begin.
I guess it helped that the four of us were just as happy sitting in the garden of a café or pub reading as we were going into town to watch a band. As long as we were together things were good. Nobody held a dominant position, ideas presented themselves and apparently without effort or sometimes even discussion we just followed them, wherever they would take us.
Tommo was the only one who had a car and when we were in the car there was only one thing that we wanted to hear. A friend of Jags worked in a record shop and had managed to secure a promo cassette of a forthcoming single from Jonathan Richman called “That Summer Feeling”. We played the song on repeat, singing, finger clicking, clapping and wahwah wooing along with the backing vocals for all our worth.
The fact that nobody else knew the song was maybe part of the attraction. It was our song, the most important song in the world to us, yet only the four of us knew of the beauty that it contained.
When out and about we used the lyrics of the song as our own coded language. Sometimes to amuse, sometimes to deliberately confuse others that were with us.
“Hey Jags,” I would say. “See that lawn, what you gonna do on it?”
“Flop down on it!” would come the reply.
Our small gang would whoop with joy. A joy made somehow deeper by inevitable perplexed looks on the faces of other friends. We didn’t mean to be cruel or mean to the others, it was just that we were revelling in our collective joy.
The endless afternoons turned into endless days, weekends then weeks. Even though some of our time would be spent in work, magically those hours disappeared and quickly we were back together. Listening to music, drinking in the sunshine, having picnics in the park, laughing and learning with each other.
We were always in each other’s company. I had never known a time of so many smiles from such simple pleasures. It was a partnership of equals, nobody looking for or taking the upper hand. We hung out, danced and flirted with others, It was summer, we were young, it was what we had to do. Yet the four of us always came back to each other at the end of the day, laughing on the adventures that we had enjoyed.
One afternoon in August, I meet with Jags after finishing work early. I thought that Tommo and Binks were going to be there as well but there was no sign of them. Jags was vague about their absence and we just made our way on foot to sit, in the by now slightly oppressive summer heat, outside The Arnolfini.
We sat with a drink as Jags started to explain that Tommo and Binks had decided that they wouldn’t be joining us later. At first I didn’t understand what I was being told, thinking this was odd. What would they want to do that didn’t involve Jags and I? Jags asked me if had noticed how close the other two had become over the last week or so?I hadn’t. I still couldn’t understand what I was being told.
Jags then went onto to say that last night after I had been dropped of at home, Tommo and Binks had taken their friendship to the next level and things were suddenly a lot more complicated.
My head was thrown into confusion. Why would the two of them jeopardise the friendship that we four had shared by being so selfish. We weren’t that sort of group of friends; it was never about couples and the inevitable splits that came from that. We were different, four friends just happy in each other’s company, or so I thought.
And that was the end of that perfect summer and the shared closeness that came with it.