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Dr John Hawkins

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Social Awkwardness

Posted on 2016/11/06 17:07:52 (November 2016).

[Sunday 30th October 2016]
I had sent Al a message the day before to see if he was free for lunch, he replied that they were planning on having lunch with Kyle and Hannah and he was sure they wouldn't mind if I joined them all. I'd just assumed they were going to a pub or something, but by the time it had got to the point of being too awkward to back out it emerged they were actually eating at Kyle and Hannah's place. It's one thing to gatecrash some friends going out for a meal, but it felt particularly rude to have effectively invited myself round to their house, albeit that I did not realise that was what I had become embroiled in at the outset.

To make matters worse I arrived slightly early - thanks to the timing of the trains it was a choice between that and half an hour late. I subsequently inferred that the timing of the invitation was probably set such that they could get Ralph down for a nap before everyone arrived, which I of course then disrupted. His exasperation at the disturbance to his routine was exacerbated by the disappointment he then experienced when he thought "Oh, Erika's Daddy's here... but where's Erika?". Add to all of that the usual awkwardness of me being vegetarian, and therefore them having to make an extra dish specially for me and I felt like the worst guest ever. At least I didn't break anything.

I felt rather detached throughout lunch, perhaps partly in reaction to having to re-adjust to the mundane themes of day-to-day life after my week of carefree gallivanting around Italy - and it can be quite irksome to have to listen to a full account of someone else's holiday so I did my best to keep it brief when asked about it. Instead the conversation seemed to mostly cover buying houses, building work and cars, and I didn't feel I had much to contribute on any of these topics. Not long after lunch I made my excuses and got ready to leave, thinking the rest of them might be a bit more relaxed on this occasion without the interloper who didn't have much to say for himself, but this then prompted Al to decide it was time for them to leave too, so to add to my list de faux pas for the day I'd also caused the party to end prematurely. What a terrible guest!

Once back in Kentish Town I popped into the Pineapple for a bit, hoping somehow this might help me to re-acclimatise with normality. I got talking to the resident pub bore, and actually had a fairly interesting conversation, as it turned out he had lived for a while in the village where I grew up. It's a small world. Odd also that, at least on this occasion, I felt more relaxed talking to a complete stranger than with good friends who I had known the best part of a decade.

Headed back home before dinner time, and rather lazily ordered Indian food for dinner.

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