I wandered into The Queens for a quick drink the other night and, while I was waiting to be served, this bloke at the bar started talking to me. He was about my age, my height, my build: a little worn, intense, well-spoken, a bit stand-offish at first but, after a couple of pints, twinkle-eyed, sharp and funny. Sat down next to a gentle fire, we talked about Taylor Swift and Kanye for a while, then about Breitbart and Brexit, about ISIS and Trump, about the ongoing destruction of the NHS. We disagreed – amicably – about whether Pochettino was the right man to take Spurs to the next level and about the relative merits of Stax and Motown; we did that lazy, disingenuous male-bonding ‘can’t-live-with-’em . . .’ thing men in pubs do about women. We bought each other beer after beer, whiskey after whiskey; as evening slurred into night, he said he was from Enfield too, ‘sort of’ – we even knew one or two of the same people – though he seemed to dislike this city, this country, this slippery, hollow age much, much more than me: he loathed our lack of curiosity and wonder, our celeb-worshipping superficiality, our disconnections, our casual violence.
I liked him and he seemed to like me. And then things got serious.