Tim Key: There's nothing like a cinema trip with your friends. Even if they didn't invite you

 

Last Sunday, I went and watched Whiplash with some friends. No, that's not fair. I didn't do that. But then again, in many ways I did. Well, it's a grey area.

One thing's for certain – I'd already had a great morning. I'd bought some mince and chicken livers from the glamorous butcher up the road and I'd heated it all up and fed it to my teacher friend, Chris, because we have an arrangement where he gives me lifts and I feed him mince in exchange. But then he was gone – off to prepare an assembly on the theme of patience – and I was left high and dry. A belly full of livers and about 10 hours of Sunday left to kill. I patted my tum and headed to Angel.

I like doing stuff on my own. Of course, it's not all plain-sailing – like any columnist, I have my demons – but by and large, when I put my mind to it, I can swan around on my own fairly gaily. And I was in good spirits when I arrived at the cinema. They only had single tickets left and I liked that and clenched my fist in celebration. I told the girl that I was exactly the kind of person they needed and she tried to nod. I explained the situation with my teacher friend and she said he sounded very diligent. I agreed and I snapped up F5, picked up a hot chocolate, assumed my seat and got ready to watch a talented young drummer getting bawled at by a slaphead for a couple of hours.

But no sooner had I sat down than the whole situation was flipped on its head. I realised that right in front of me was none other than my old friend Jack Dubs! Well, friend of a friend, but even so. I recognised his nape and baritone laugh immediately. I jabbed his flank with my pen, he turned round, issued a big old smile, and suddenly my afternoon was transformed. He was there with his wife and another five friends (how do these people do it?) and I leaned forward into their bosom and, as the trailers played out, became one of them. And then the film began and I didn't know what to think any more.

Was I watching a film on my own? I certainly hadn't gone with friends. On the other hand, I certainly felt the warmth and support of having friends nearby. On the screen, we watched the poor kid's hands bleeding as he whacked his drums to gain the respect of baldy; occasionally I'd lean between Jack and his wife and whisper something like "poor kid" or "stellar acting" but did that mean I was definitely with them? I wasn't sure. I put my arms round them, had them share their popcorn with me. Tutted when they tutted, laughed when they laughed, left when they left.

Outside, talk turned to food. People were interested in grabbing a bite to eat. Ag had eaten, but Jack and Katherine wanted a burger and I saw this as a great opportunity to consolidate myself in their circle. I don't think I'd entirely digested my livers at that stage, but figured I'd take the hit.

I marched across to Byron with these guys and sat dead-centre of the table and took the lead ordering drinks and had a huge hand in picking which sides we'd have. Me and Jack ordered very similar burgers and we discussed the film and the more we nibbled our fries and glugged our cans of Brooklyn Lager, the more it was obvious that we were all together – that we were a group of friends, who had gone to the cinema and who were now in a burger bar. I wanted it to last for ever.

We parted company on the street, maybe 200 metres from Angel Station. Bear-hugs all round. Me saying my name again and clarifying that they knew me through Jonny; them saying "of course".

And then away we all went. Me: on my tod, to digest my meat. Them: who knows? But together certainly. As friends.

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