The music was perfect for the way we felt. We sat in the noodle bar not looking at each other. "Put these guns in the ground" rumbles in the background, a live performance with a screaming crowd reproduced by an iPod in a broom cupboard.
No woman no cry, Marley recorded live at Brixton, I think. I remember sitting front and centre of the balcony in the Brixton Academy looking down at the circus performers below, and they on their stilts reached up until they were almost level with me. Before the age of mainstream computer graphics, LCD projectors were a novelty and the show was an experience of which I had only dreamed.
I can't hear the sound system in our venue; the tech tower is behind it. I keep thinking that it's too quiet. I got onto the floor today and I was surprised at how loud it was. The MC-squared is occasionally playing up, a channel on the Crown is down but we're keeping the show going somehow.
The noodle bar is our second home now. It's useful to be a regular somewhere, hundreds of miles from home. To feel welcome somewhere, to talk to people and have friends around. We've been a large party in here, crowding as many stools around a single table. We've eaten everything on the menu, made friends with the owner, and enlisted the help of random customers. We've swapped music and traded telephones.
Tonight is just the two of us, listening to reggae and not speaking, except occasionally to ask the time. Tomorrow blends into yesterday and the only important time is when we can go home. The toast each night is to another day survived; another day we don't have to do again.
We have three days to go.
And yes, we survived it.