Tuesday 18 May

We nearly lost him. And now we’ve found him again it’s easy to thank your chosen deity, leave him in the care of his good woman and neglect to go and press the flesh; or hug the man, as often as you should. It’s left to Brandon Blaque himself to call on me directly. He favours a team of crow messengers, over the traditional pigeons, but nothing is lost in translation. Sanchez flutters down to my desk where I sit surrounded by countless little bits of myself in word form, before discretely revealing just two: Visitors Welcome! That means today; that means leaving petty thoughts of an unpublished nature far behind and hopping a tram to Salford to see someone who has genuine challenges at this time in his life. We thought we’d lost Brandon when he went into a coma. He has come through the other side, practically uninvited. A genius on matters electronic Brandon hides his short-term memory problems by zapping holes in any arguments that dare stray too close, with a characteristic cool we’ve been familiar with for years. But that doesn’t mean all is as it was. In this perfectly clean, perfectly friendly, perfectly dull convalescence home Brandon is regularly checked and injected with insulin. He stares straight ahead, takes it, then goes for another cigarette. The smokes are what remain of Brandon’s freedom right now. Cause of much friction they are more than the filthy, soot-flavoured sum of their parts: IF YOU WANT TO GO FOR A CIGARETTE, JUST ASK A NURSE is pinned above Brandon’s sideboard; the block capitals suggesting that my friend hasn’t been institutionalized quite yet. I escape into a summer’s day. No consolation that Brandon would rather have the night. He walked almost to his flat under cover of darkness last week before they sent a carriage to pick him up, bring him back: IF YOU WANT ME TO START BEHAVING, DON’T ASK.

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