October, 1998. Thessaloniki.

We lay on his bed together, in the dark, listening to Patrick Fitzgerald. It was all new to me, strange but somehow wonderful. I was unsure, but charmed.

“I’m happy,” he said. “I’m listening to my favourite artist and you’re holding me.” And so it came to be that I acquired some kind of taste for post-punk that would serve me well later when I came across the Television Personalities, and that ‘Safety pin stuck in my heart’ would forever remind me of him. That was also how it came to be that I acquired a taste for unusual people with a tendency to grumpiness and loneliness, it has to be said — or perhaps I was born with it, and that is how I came to discover it. Either way, I’m glad I did.

“I have this picture in my mind, of us on a night train,” he said a little later, and I, who had never been on a night train, told him that I would never manage to do all the things that he had done in life. Never. Ever. I was seventeen and a half, it was easy to be so sure about it. “You’re like a sponge,” he said, and I waited in the night for an explanation. “You feel everything.”

I held my breath, wondering how the hell he knew; amazed, enchanted; with my life suddenly exposed to me in a different light, with a string of meaning running through it. And it was then, gentle reader –with that simple, unintentional, almost daft act of acknowledgement– that my life proper began.