For four weeks Russell’s been researching rail travel, because he wants to be Ethan Hawke in Before Sunrise. He’s prepared for other variations if this one won’t work, although he’s not updating Shakespeare, serenading Winona Ryder, or pretending he’s someone he’s not (unless it’s Ethan Hawke, obviously).
I try to be supportive. He asks me, ‘Where can I get a good hamburger?’ until he gets the accent right. We walk around the city, late nights and early mornings, and he keeps saying, ‘I didn’t think it’d be this cold. It didn’t look cold in the film.’ Sometimes, I swear he’s saying ‘Uma Thurman’ under his breath, but he may just be shivering.
He’s got his inter-rail pass already. I bite my lip to stop from saying, ‘This isn’t what Ethan would have, because Ethan’s American.’ I don’t relay any of Russell’s flaws back to him (he really can’t say ‘banana’) because I’m not in the habit of destroying hope.
Before he leaves I ask him, ‘Why Ethan?’ and he mumbles something about oddly tall beautiful women, whilst fastening the clips on his rucksack. I stand on tiptoes, crane my neck and say, ‘You don’t need to travel round Europe for that.’ And then he kisses me continentally, on both cheeks, as his train pulls in.