He doesn't really acknowledge me, just gives me a sort of nod as I explain where I want to go.
I lean back against the seat; it's faded green and smells a bit musty.
He clears his throat and changes the radio station. It seems he doesn't want to hear the news, would sooner listen to Pink Floyd. That's fine by me.
His hair is greying and thin and he is wearing glasses, the thick rimmed type you would see back in the 70s. He's about 60. There's something a bit tragic about him.
"Busy day?" I ask, politely, not that interested.
"You could say that," he replies, and his voice is soft and low.
"Oh, really?" I persevere, "why's that?"
"My wife walked out on me this morning."
Oh. I wasn't expecting that. An awkward silence hangs in the air as I try to think of a suitable response.
"God, I'm sorry..." I look out of the window, embarrassed- should I say more? I glance at his face in the mirror; lined, tired, miserable. His expression is so sad, I feel almost light headed with pity.
He sighs, a big long one, that seems to physically deflate his body.
"It was my fault. I changed. I let her down-"
His voice breaks. I sit quietly, genuinely distressed to see somebody so broken in such a raw and uncompromising way.
"Look- can I pull over a minute?- I'll turn the meter off." It's a brave question, unlikely in this day and age when nobody has any time for each other, let alone something like this. I respect his disregard for convention.
"Of course- take your time." I mean it.
I can tell he is holding back- that he wants to erupt into a furious fit of despair.
"Do you want to talk?"
"Do you mind?"
"No. Maybe I can help." Something about this man has touched me- perhaps it is his honesty.
He fiddles at the steering wheel, brushing off imaginary dust.
"We've been married 33 years. No kids. She's called Maggie. She's beautiful. We met in a park- she was trying to save a bird. It had fallen out of a tree. It was dying. Wings smashed. She asked me for a lift to get her home so she could make it better. I could have been anyone, but she didn't think like that-" He pauses, choking on the memories.
The sun emerges briefly from behind the clouds which are pink and grey and beautiful. I stare at them as he continues to speak, hypnotised by his voice.
"We got it inside- and she made it this kind of nest- she was giving me instructions; things to do- like getting water and bits of loo roll. I did what she asked even though I knew the bird wasn't going to make it. She was so lovely and pure and calm, with these incredible amber eyes- I- I fell in love with her I suppose. Just like that really. We kept in touch- and do you know what? The bird made it. She bloody well saved it."
He scratches his chin, takes off his glasses, lost in the past.
"We started going out- mad in love we were. I called her 'Birdie'. We could talk for hours. 'Bout all sorts. Got married that Summer, a year after we met. Lovely day that was, she looked so pretty, so hopeful. Full of life she was. We danced to Stairway to Heaven- you know, Led Zeppelin. Always been our song. But I wore her down in the end, didn't I? Stupid fool."
His tone has changed, sharpened with regret and remorse and it's painful to hear.
"How did you let her down?" and suddenly I really need to know- really want to have something I can say back and help.
He sighs again. "Gambling. I'm a gambler."
The word feels explicit- the uncensored truth laid bare in the cold hard light of day.
"It's got worse. These last five years- I lost the plot with it all. I'm in debt. Bad debt. And she couldn't deal with it any more. With the broken promises and the late nights and the emotional hangovers that polluted the whole house."
The timing seems inappropriate but it occurs to me that I am thirsty.
"Look, I'm going to get a drink from over there," I say, pointing at a small shop, "Do you want something? A bottle of water? Juice?"
I nearly laugh out loud at that- I sound almost maternal to this man who is much, much older than me. He seems amused as well and it's nice to feel the atmosphere lighten a little.
"You're a good sort," he says simply. "And no, I'm ok, thanks- though I might stand outside and have a puff."
I run over to the shop and buy myself a can of coke and some chocolate. Crossing the road, I can see he is leaning against the car door and I go and stand next to him.
"Funny thing, life," he muses to us both.
"Yes, I suppose it is."
We stay like that a while, not talking, just watching the sky.
"What's your name?" I ask eventually.
We get back in the car and this time I sit in the front. I need to express myself, hoping to inspire this sad, depressed man.
"I think you should try and sort things out, Barry. It sounds like you have a great love for your wife and I'm sure she would forgive you and come back to you if you worked hard at showing her you had changed." I sound naive and passionate and slightly frantic. He looks at me and smiles and it's a sad smile, but he tries hard and somehow it's for me. Tears well up in my eyes and I blink them away. And I know. I know it's not going to be easy- not for him, not for me, not for any of us. Life comes along and hits you, hits you hard, sometimes when you're down, sometimes when you're up. It doesn't matter. Life's equal futility and beauty stuns me, shocks me. I know I'll never see this man again. The brutal reality that anything can happen dawns on me, overwhelms me. The frailty of hopes and dreams. Of health. He could die from a broken heart. Cancer could rage through his body, killing him in a year- and I'd never know.
We have shared an emotional, human experience quite out of the blue- but, soon enough, we will sink back into our respective worlds.
He turns on the engine and the radio comes to life.
'Here's a classic, first released way back in 1971,' the woman is saying, 'Stairway to Heaven.'