We’d all come back from a walk through England’s glorious countryside, over the green rolling hills of the Southern Downs, trailing along a river bank swathed in a mass of wildflowers through which the butterflies danced and bees busily droned from blossom to blossom. We’d wandered lazily through a hot morning with the sun scorching our faces under an unremitting blue sky – four old friends together.
Nothing could be more delightful than the perfect English summer day when it happened. You could not count on it to happen too often in this unpredictable climate. We’d found a picnic bench outside a pub overlooking the old weathered rock walls of a mediaeval castle and basked in the weather and company, swigging a cool beer, idly talking, laughing lots and picking at a pub meal.
Throughout the entire walk we’d been catching up on news, reminiscing and sharing views. That’s what old friends did. I’d outlined my thoughts on my book. Writing was one of my passions. It infuriated Liz. She saw it as one of my obsessions. Something else I wasted endless hours on. She despaired over the way I could not relax and live in the moment. Even on a beautiful day, walking through the most beautiful scenery, my mind was flitting through the interior of my head while the world slipped by. I only had to have an audience and I could not help but let fly, to allow all that storm of pent-up ideas to gush out. Kathy and Tobes had made the mistake of appearing to listen. It seemed to me that they liked the idea but saw nothing original about it. In their view, it had been done to death. Nobody would be interested. But it had caught their imagination to an extent, more than most of my fanciful literary concoctions.
Kathy and I were sitting in the front room, on the floor, our backs against the sofa, a glass of Merlot in one hand. We were passing a spliff back and forth, contemplating infinity and arguing about religion. Standard fayre for a Sunday afternoon.
‘So what would you say to some evangelical redneck who believed the world was formed by god four thousand years ago?’ She peered at me with a cheeky, quizzical look, daring me to rise to it. ‘You know Oph, some brainwashed American, brought up in the Deep South who was taught that every word of the bible was the absolute word of god, huh Oph?’
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