A good swap
It was probably sometime in the year 2000 that Mark and I discovered the simple joys of going for a few drinks in Belgo's in Bristol. They had an enviable Belgian restaurant, but downstairs, in the basement, they had an even more enviable bar, which boasted close to a hundred different types of bottled beer.
Never afraid of a bit of 'drinking adventure' Mark and I, over time, whittled down the list of beers to a select few what we particularly liked and made it our job to catch up and put a few drinks away occasionally.
As we were often there on work nights, the bar was pretty quiet and one evening, Mark had with him a copy of a CD (I've since paid for and bought an original copy before you say anything) of Richard Cheese's first album 'Lounge Against the Machine' which he had made for me. It was (and still is) a fantastic compilation of lounge covers of rock, pre-dating the mass marketed stuff that Paul Anka did a few years later.
So as we were sat in the bar, it occurred to us that we should maybe see whether the lone barman (who we were chatting to, on and off) would be interested in hearing the 'lounge stylings' of Mr Cheese. Turns out he did. Quite a lot. So much so that he offered us a couple of shots on the house in exchange for the CD after it was barely five tracks in. The thing was with Belgo's, that they had wooden racks to put shot glasses in (the first bar I'd ever seen such things) with slots for 4, 8, 12, 16 or 32 glasses, depending on how much you wanted to spend.
Wide eyed, we watched the guy pick up the 12 rack, then put it down, before picking up the 16 and filling it for us. A damn fine trade for a CD I reckon.
The next day at work was somewhat quieter than usual…
Mark died a year ago today.
It still feels weird knowing one of my best mates is dead.