Review 2014:
One Thing:
Gary Bainbridge.

Life I grew up near Penny Lane. I lived around there between the ages of three and 23, and then I got married and moved away.

That marriage broke down at the end of last year. It has been extremely difficult for all concerned, and that's all I'm going to say about it.

After a short stay with my brother and his wife and their menagerie of pets I moved into lodgings off Penny Lane in January. It was a good spot for some practical reasons, but also because I wanted somewhere familiar, a cocoon to which I could retreat and rebuild myself.

About a week after I moved in, my live-in landlord joined me in the kitchen, clutching a piece of paper. The previous evening he had been at his regular quiz night, and the paper contained the questions from this session. “Did you know any of these?” he asked me, and he rattled through them. I answered roughly 20 out of 28 correctly, including, crucially, a couple his team had answered incorrectly.

Apparently I'd passed his super-secret audition, and he invited me to go along to the next quiz night, at Peter Kavanagh's pub on the outskirts of Liverpool city centre. I joined a team comprising most weeks a playwright, a swimming accountant, a motorcycling IT consultant, an expat American scientist with a limitless supply of geeky T-shirts, and her husband, a one-legged, home-brewing, Burnley-supporting, repository of general knowledge.

And our team won. I kept going back every Thursday. We didn't win every week, but we did more often than not.

It changed my life. Outside work - the only part of my life which hadn't altered - I was rootless. Now I had a rhythm to my week, a pub where the barmaid knew my order, and the first friends I'd met in years outside Twitter.

When I moved out of my Penny Lane cocoon and into my flat, living alone for the first time in my life, I stayed in touch with my new friends, still going to the quiz as often as I could.

Because what I know now is you have to put in the effort to maintain friendships. I'd coasted before then, letting friends slip out of my life. And that left me alone when my world imploded. I learnt my lesson.

I grew up near Penny Lane.

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