Joel Silsbury, 21st August 2018

Our friend, Giles Archen, was an eccentric man. When I knew him back in the summer of 2012 he was obsessed with doors. He was crashing at our place while he volunteered for the London Olympics. When he wasn’t busy with that, he spent his time wandering the streets looking at doors.

I found this out after spotting him on the High Street near to our house. I almost shouted to him from the other side of the street, but then noticed he was acting a bit strangely. Still in his purple Games Maker shirt, he was skittishly weaving his way through the busy pavement, his face turned towards the buildings lining the street.

I will admit to being fascinated. I followed him from the other side of the road and soon realised he was focused on the doorways. Especially the ones pulled back away from the side of the buildings. The ones with deep arches and dingy passageways seemed especially attractive to him. Then, outside a coffee shop, he stopped. He stood in front of an alleyway that led back to a door.

He stood there for many minutes, just staring. Far longer than was normal, as there really wasn’t anything to look at. After an age, he brought out his phone and held it up. I assumed he was taking pictures or video, and again this went on for far too long.

A couple sitting at the tables outside the cafe became concerned, and the man was sent inside to complain or something! I decided to rescue my friend, dashing across the road and hailing him with a loud “Hey, Giles!” He seemed to snap out of whatever had been holding his attention. A brief look of concern passed across his face before it broke into its usual cheerful grin. I dragged him away from the cafe and towards the nearest pub. 

We never really spoke of this strange behaviour after this had happened. It was just another way in which our friend Archen was a bit strange. It was like when he used to wink at the moon whenever he noticed it in the sky. Or the more annoying ‘announcing of the hours’. If you were in a room with him, and the time happened to hit a new hour, he would state it as a fact. “It’s eight o’clock!” he would say, without any other qualifying statement or a need for a reply. I asked him about it once. He said that people used to have clocks with chimes to let them know when the hour was changing. He was just doing the same, as it was important to know. I had no idea what he meant.

After the Olympics were over he moved away again. He was one of those friends who drifted around the world doing interesting things and never settling down. But whenever you saw him, he was the same solid mate we had met in college. I’ve seen him once in the last 6 years. He turned up to my mother’s funeral. I hadn’t even told him she had died. He stayed with us for a night, and then disappeared off again.

A few days ago I received an email from him. The subject was: Doors.

There was an image attached, and he had simply written, “I have caught one at last!”

It’s a big file, so I’ve put it on my Google Drive: Click here!

Julie my wife thinks he’s playing silly buggers. To be honest, it gives me the creeps!

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