In 1981 I went back to university for a year, ostensibly to pin some extra letters on my name but mainly to have a good time.
I made two lasting friends that year, both through cricket, both two to three years younger than me, and both now dead.
Why they should have come to mind this autumn morning with rats scrabbling in my garage and the sun not getting over the Port Hills till 10 in the morning and gone again by 3, I cannot tell you.
But they flooded in just now, the pair of them, while I was buttering mid-morning toast. And the first of them was Darryl.
Darryl was sentimental, soft-hearted, but with a rich streak of gloom.
Drunkish one night, he and I climbed the wall into the botanical gardens and onto the roof of some sort of arboretum, and we sat up there and talked, as young men do, of I can longer remember what until the sun came up.
Darryl was studying medicine and I doubted that he'd last the course, not because he lacked the smarts but because even then at the age of 20 he'd pulled aside the veil of things and seen a great futility.
Hence, in part, the tendency to gloom, but also the insouciant charm, the sense about him of whistling in the dark that I found appealing.
He proved me wrong, became a doctor, and by all reports a much-loved one, though he disliked being an employee. He chafed in harness.
He married Sue, a London journalist, who hired me sometimes to send her oddball stories from New Zealand, stories that confirmed a British audience in what they thought of New Zealand, which was, in essence, scenery, bungy and rugby.
They had three children and Darryl was a fine unorthodox father.
And then, aged 51, at home alone one winter afternoon he built a bonfire and primed it with petrol. What he didn't realise when he lit the pile was that he was effectively standing in a pool of fumes. He died, three weeks later, of the burns.
The other friend was Simon, a great beak-nosed adventurer, six foot four of eager athlete, blond-haired, confident and loud, a useful cricketer and outstanding rugby player.
He was studying engineering and his first job after graduating was based in Wolverhampton in the Black Country, the industrial heart of England that you need to be born in to love. I went to see him there when he was engaged in shoring up canal tunnels that were a couple of hundred years old.
In the pub that evening one of Simon's work gang rolled in. He was a man of perhaps 50, who'd been born right there and never shifted and had an accent so thick I couldn't understand him. He had a single front tooth like an old-fashioned can opener and he wore a leather apron to conceal, Simon said, some sort of abdominal hernia for which he refused to seek treatment.
With his beer he ate a plate of white bread rolls stuffed with raw onion and nothing else. Within a year Simon had emigrated.
He travelled extensively, worked in Africa for years, married, had two daughters, and settled finally in Dubai where he established his own engineering consultancy then suffered a fatal heart attack in his mid-50s.
When I visited him there a dozen or more years ago he told me a story I have always loved.
As a young man he got a job crewing a rich man's yacht across the Indian Ocean. One night he was on watch in the very early morning, alone for four hours in some nameless patch of water between East Africa and western Australia and it was him and sea and sky and nothing else.
The moon was up and the water sparkled black and the world was roofed with a trillion stars and Simon was sitting cross-legged on a hatch cover in shorts and singlet and he was thinking thoughts, as any of us would, in an inky solitude so intense it seems to reach into the very soul, when something struck him in the back.
He jumped, he said, as he had never jumped before. On the deck of the yacht beside him lay a flying fish.
What do these stories prove? Sod all, as Larkin observed. But they were two good men.