Surprisingly Ben didn't have a hangover this morning after L's BBQ last night where he consumed vast quantities of cider from 5pm onwards before phoning me at 11pm for a lift home, too drunk to go onto the nightclub some of them were planning to go to. It was a happy but very tipsy Ben that sat in my car on the way home, feet on the dashboard, stinking of booze and chatting away about the fantastic evening he'd had.
So this morning I asked him: "Did it feel like the old days again? You with your old friends, talking in the way you used to, no anxiety or anything?"
"Yes it felt totally normal. We had a really good time - and everyone was mega pleased to see me. M said they'd missed me over the past few weeks, so I told him we'd been away on holiday. On Saturday night we're going out again."
"To do what?"
"Sit in the woods and chill."
"If it rains on Saturday then we'll do it on Tuesday instead."
"Did everyone get into the uni they wanted to get into?"
"Yes, and M got better grades than he thought so he's re-applying for a better course. And I spent ages arguing with C about whose cat was the most beautiful - hers or ours."
"Did you eat?"
"I had some kebabs and loads of tortilla chips, tonnes of sweets, too, like flying saucers and jelly babies."
"With cider... Yuk!"
"Four cans and one bottle." Ben rarely drinks, so his lack of a hangover surprised me. "But I knew it would be like this so I made sure I ate more during the day to compensate."
Rewind back to the spring when Ben was still finding it really hard to integrate with his friends and had almost given it up as a bad job. "We're all going away to uni in September, so what's the point of making the effort?" he'd say.
Back them I could never have predicted that things would pan out like this - as normal as normal can be.