The last time I saw him was in tunnel B29, entrance 12. The opening leads to the disused gasworks on the eastern side of town.
The speed of our parting didn’t do justice to our friendship.
We were in our early twenties when we met. He was forceful, intelligent, handsome. A leader even then. His followers would come in time. I was already his first.
I was his equal in many ways, but leadership was not in my nature.
Leaders need to be able to make unpleasant and unpopular decisions for the greater good. I would have wavered too easily. He never appeared to waver.
The weather had been beautiful in London that year, but we flew home as soon as our exams were finished. We had important work to do.
Had we known the full horrors of the bloodshed that lay ahead, maybe we would have delayed our flight and enjoyed the Summer.
We did some good things, despite what our grandchildren will be told. They will only hear about the bad things.
Historians will not record how we taught them to use the pens and keyboards they will write their new history with.
But that’s how it works, we should know that more than most. And we did do some bad things.
As we raced down the tunnel, the roar of the engine against the narrow walls stole our last chance to speak.
Fifteen minutes of shared noise and shared silence.
When we came to a stop at the opening, he disembarked quickly and threw his arms around me. He squeezed so tightly I expected my bones to crack. Instead it was my voice.
“Goodbye my old friend, I will see you soon.”, he said.
I watched as he started to climb the ladder.
He turned and gave his last command.
My foot hit the pedal and I sped off down the tunnel, alone.
Four decades is a long time. Perhaps a lifetime.