16th March – It’s so very lonely, you’re six hundred light years from home.

Yes, Google Eye. Odd looking. A guru. You know: one eye in Worthing; one eye in Warrington.

She consulted to companies like ours. We would have been the worst of her clients. Once every three months we got. Some places got her once a week. And her good clients went to her. And when I say good, like Triple-A types, world leaders, pop stars, the odd Pope, that kinda thing. We were massively down the rankings. Our directors were thick arseholes who had left school at sixteen and fought for everything they’d got: three peasants; one landed gentry; someone from Australia who’d been in the Olympics. And this was her thing: she could see energy – you know the energy fields arcing round you. She knew good energy from bad energy; tell if you were going forward in life – whether it was worth trying to fix your energy fields or not.

I’m sorry papa, but I inherited such beastly genes.

There seemed to be this big thing, the main reason to get her really, about being declared to be a person with ‘it’ – that you possessed this strong energy glow that marked you out as one of them.

‘Did it work for poor people?’ asked Keith. He didn’t want to acknowledge that it might have any validity. And by that way that the rhythm of a conversation goes, I ended up defending something about which I shared as much cynicism as him.

‘It wasn’t just a rich person’s validation thing,’ I heard myself saying, ‘there is a, scientific justification for it.’ Besides, I had my own first-hand evidence that she could identify clever, achieving types – those that had it; they had this sort of personal intellectual certainty about themselves, a sort of lack of fear about the future. I didn’t have it, but I always held on to, for me, the absolute certainty that had she met me when I was younger, I’d have been an IT-boy.

‘Let me get this right,’ says Keith, I hated it when he began to deconstruct, ‘it was a prized judgment to hear that you had it? That you had the positive energy that marked out as one of the winners in life?’

‘Yes,’ I said, ‘but when you say it like that…’

‘…so, what happened when she assessed someone who didn’t have it?’

I shrugged.

‘Did she tell you?’ he asked.

She didn’t, you kinda worked out that you’d been omitted, you know, like when everyone is sharing a cool new joke, and you don’t get it, because you are the butt.

‘Aaw, how sad. Worse than failing the 11+ I imagine. Written off at junior board level. Bald heads rubbing on the glass ceiling, smearing it with grease and cosmetics.’ Keith tries one of his famous attempts at saying something smart and funny, but, as usual, he stretches it too far, in an attempt to get all his references in.

‘I think the point of her service was to fix them,’ I said.

But he really does drive you nuts at times; the way he won’t let a point go.

‘Oh, that’s a good idea,’ he said, ‘so she suddenly devalued all those who’d been pronounced to have it on the first assessment.’

He had this way of slicing. He hadn’t been there. I had. But he was in the mood for goading, so he tried again: ‘If it can be so easily fixed, what’s the great prize about having it in the first place?’

I waved him away. We’d have to change subject. I’d only wanted to convey a little about what I perceived Eggo to have had when I first left his company. A conversation. We retreat to our respective corners. It is dreadful, but it’s better than being alone with your thoughts.

‘Look,’ he says eventually. Oh blin!, It sounds like the way conversations with my father would suddenly turn frank. ‘I look at you,’ he says, ‘and I can see your energy fields are damaged and weak. I can also see that they used to be strong. I bet you can too.’

Oh God, it is one of those chats. Massive, hole-boring, criticism that will lay a time-bomb in my foundations, all dressed up as a pep-talk.

‘… other people have different names for it; they call it posture, bearing, outlook, positivity, body language – you probably noticed it without being aware of it – it was just something that you took in when you met people and looked at them. You of all people, because when you meet them, you examine them – you do it to the guards every morning – you notice small changes in their mood, their smell, that sense that they give off. You’re the one who knows whether we’re in for a bad day or not, way before we actually get it – you sniff mood. I sometimes think that you can look into the soul of a human being. Honestly, I do.’

He’s still pepping me up. It means it’s going to be a real zinger when we start on the descent. I know, I’ve been here before, you’re a good lad, Richard, but why do you have to … I’ll be ready for him this time, though. I’ve learnt the inherent contradictions, the false positives, the over-emphasis of fleeting praise, the adult sulking, the presentation of ignorance as enlightenment. Let him come.

‘… only with you it’s a knack you take for granted, you perhaps lack a degree of self-awareness, you don’t know what you’ve got – so you don’t objectivise your talents like this woman does. You don’t have the confidence to call it something like she does – she declares a special talent for herself, and consults to maharajahs and popes, and business leaders and politicians, and whosoever they are – you use the same skill to persecute yourself and fear the future. You know the difference between you don’t you – you and that woman? She’s confident and you aren’t. That’s all. She’s a self-promoter – she goes round telling everyone how clever she is, and most of them, not being as confident as her, believe her. You, however, go a step further;: you leave yourself open to be judged; invite it on, in fact. For some reason you’ve forgotten that you have the right to judge too.’

Mmmh, if that was a dressing down, it’s one of the best I’ve ever had.

Either this boy has a penchant for Polos, or he’s damaged.

I don’t quite know how to respond.

‘They really did some damage, didn’t they?’ he adds. Then before I can respond, he goes on, ‘but me and you, here, we are going to undo it all, and make it better.’

I don’t know what to say. Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? More importantly, is this, after all, what normal is for other people? To feel noticed? Valued? It is too much to hope that the knot that lives on top of my stomach will suddenly melt away, but I get a definite sense that if life continues like this, it might, eventually. Eggo has spent his whole life feeling like that. No wonder he doesn’t really notice that he behaves like an absolute twat all the time.

There is nothing to say; only to know.

I think about sidling up silently to Keith, to bed-in with him for the night, but I don’t, for fear that in the comfort of this reversion to a once familiar, but long since lost, sensation, I’ll relax too much and wee on him in my sleep, and ruin it all, like I always do.