Say Yes

Say Yes

“But when I (When I), I’d let go (I’d let go)
My struggling form (My struggling form)
My willing soul (I’d see)
Every time (Each time I)
Would flow through the world, I’d see (Flow through the—)
That the world (The world)
It flows through me (It flows through me)
That the world, it flows through me”


On leaving Mum and Dad’s in the rain on Tuesday evening I noticed I’d a missed call from a UK mobile. These days if I get a missed call from any unknown number I ignore it assuming that it’s a scam of some description and that if the caller is genuine they’ll either ring back , or leave a message. Then I noticed that they had left a voice message. Again, these days, second only to the annoyance of actually answering the phone to someone ( send a text ARAN !), is going through the palaver of retrieving your voice messages.

“You have two messages, which I could play  immediately, but I won’t. Let me give you several meaningless keypad options that you never use, and then I will very s-l-o-w-l-y tell you the time and date of the message, before playing you the message as if it was recorded at the bottom of a bucket of syrup…”

The message was from Munish.

As soon as I heard his voice I was transported back 20 years to Ta Tu on the Lisburn Road in Belfast, where we’d go several times a week in the heady days of our, the e-commerce store that was brilliant, but unfortunately launched before broadband existed.

“Well Paul, long time, got your number from Zebi, it’s Munish. Give me a call back.”

I called him straight away. We laughed at how long it had been since we last spoke, 15 years or so, and he got straight down to brass tacks. “ I’m a finalist in the Ulster heat of the Restaurant Association of Ireland which is in the Hillgrove , Monghan, and we were let down by a babysitter so my wife has to look after the twins. I rang Zebi to see if he’d go , but he’s taking his Mum out for pizza for her birthday and he suggested I ring you. Do you fancy it ?”

When is it ?


The seventh of April ?

“No, 7pm tonight.”

I looked at the clock on the car dashboard, 5.15pm.

Is it black tie ?

“No, smart casual, canapes and prosecco kind of thing.”

Give me a few minutes and I’ll make sure I’ve nothing else on.

I arrived home as I hung up from him. I rang Ray. Who I’d been out for a run with just before I called to see Mum and Dad.

Are you going to the Ulster Restaurants thing tonight ?

“Yes, Emma’s nominated in a category. Why ?”

I started explaining about the phone call I’d got from Munish and why he was stuck. Ray started laughing out loud.

“Seriously ??? He rang and asked you ? “

I was a little offended , thinking, ‘Why the hell wouldn’t he call me ?’ I look good on anyone’s arm. He continued.

“You haven’t spoken to him in 15 years and he’s asking you to babysit his kids, so he can go to the awards ???”

What ?

“What age are his kids ?”

5 , I think.

“And he’s asking you to look after them ???”

No ! He’s asking me to go to the awards with him !

“Oh, that makes more sense. I thought he was travelling with his wife to Monaghan and was leaving his kids off with you while they went to the awards.” And with that he started laughing and gasping for breath.

After a few more minutes of gasping and laughing I said I’d see him later and hung up.

My Soulmate arrived home and I said that Munish had called and asked me to the awards.

“That’s cool. When are they ?”

In an hour.

As you may have gathered my Soulmate knows me better than anyone, and knows that I can get quite comfortable doing nothing , she smiled and said “You better hurry up.”

It was only when I arrived at the Hillgrove and struggled to find a parking space that I realised that this was a big event. There were almost 800 people there.

I entered the hall and spotted Munish straight away. He hadn’t changed a bit. He held out his hand , but I gave him a big hug instead. We’d only started chatting when the awards started. It was unlike any awards ceremony I’d been at before in that no one was seated, they were all standing facing the stage where the awards were being presented. The second thing was that, even though it was just after 7pm, a large proportion of the crowd were very, very, very drunk. Munish said that there were stalls around the hall dishing out free gin, beer, wine, prosecco, and more free gin. The three girls in front of us were holding goldfish sized goblets of gin in both hands and having a great time altogether.

As the compere was blasting out nominations every few seconds and the background noise of 700 people hocked up on free gin we couldn’t really talk.

Emma won her category, Restaurant Manager Of The Year, but Munish didn’t win his so we decided to go out to the hotel bar and have a chat before he headed home. When we sat up at the bar I told him about my conversation earlier with Ray, and his hysterics at the notion of being asked to babysit.

“If I’d known that was an option I would have taken you up on it !”

We talked of our old friends from the Dog Pound, this is what everyone referred Talat and Chris’ flat as. Harry, Gary, Sanjay, Zebi, Jim, Dave, James, and the aforementioned Tal and Chris.

“Do you remember Dee ?”

Yes ! The life and soul of every nightclub launch in Belfast.

“Passed away, 40 , heart attack.”

No way !

This then led on to us discussing our own recent ailments, his open heart surgery, and my cancer malarkey, and our appreciation for how lucky we both were.

We both settled on the fact that our wild, irrational , but enthusiastic optimism had got us into and out of a lot of scrapes, but that all in all we were the better for it.

I mentioned that I was threatening to go up to Belfast some Saturday to meet Chris for a few beers and he said he’d love to join us.

We hugged in the car park before we went our separate ways.

I drove home with a warm glow.

I’m glad I said ‘Yes’.



Author: paul

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