As we turn to walk back to the canal, I shade my eyes and say, ‘What are you wearing?’
He looks down at himself and then back up at me. ‘What?’ But he’s grinning, so he knows exactly what I’m getting at.
He’s wearing baggy long shorts and a sort of tank top over a T-shirt with bright green trainers and no socks. He always did dress weird – as if he couldn’t care less what anyone thought – but not this weird. He’s also got a sort of barrel bag over his back with badges pinned to the strap. One of them says ‘We are all made of stardust’.
‘More to the point, what are you wearing?’ he says.
‘I may have Elmo on my pyjamas, but you appear to have him on your head,’ I say.
He reaches up and runs his hand through his red hair. ‘Oh yeah. I did this for a bet, but I like it. What do you think? It’s eye-catching, right?’
‘Almost eye-searing,’ I say.
He grins and points to his teeth. ‘No brace either.’
His teeth are straight and his grin is just as huge as it always was. People used to call him ‘Banana Mouth’.
I realise I’m grinning back at him without even thinking about it.
He sort of pats me on the arm and hops up and down a little bit. ‘It’s so good to see you!’ he says.
‘You too,’ I say.
And it is.