Thursday, September 09, 2004

Climbing Up To The Moon 

“Would you mind if I asked you to pee on my hostas?” asked the nice lady in the floppy hat.
I was breathless.
“My Arthur swears by it. Keeps the slugs and snails off, he says.”
“And does it work?” I gasped.
“But if you’d rather just use the loo, it’s through on the left.”

The front door to the cottage was surrounded by masses of roses, the hallway looked cool and dark.
I parked my bike against the porch and stepped inside.

One of the joys of getting lost down country lanes is that it doesn’t matter. You can go this way or that way, or just round and round in circles. It’s exhausting and relaxing at the same time.

“Are you lost?” asked a young couple strolling with a boozy post-lunch gait. I was slumped against a signpost, grappling ineffectively with Ordnance Survey Landranger 102, which was determined to be not only upside down but also inside out. I couldn’t have been loster.
“No, but thanks,” I answered. “What difference does it make?”
They smiled supportively towards me, in the way that you might smile at a man in the village stocks, then disappeared down the lane. From the glint in their eyes, my guess is they were headed for the nearest haystack to enjoy a spot of cider and some lively bucolic humping.
I waved goodbye as I whizzed past them down the slope, then waved again when I met them twenty minutes later, wheezing back up the lane.
The third time we met we avoided each other’s gaze, and simply gave a silent nod of recognition, like when you keep bumping into somebody you know around the supermarket, and what was at first pleasant has become a bit silly and embarrassing from sheer repetition.

“Have you ever tried Elderberry Cordial?” said the nice old lady, as I stepped back into the sunlight, relieved and refreshed. “It’s my Grandmother’s recipe. I’ll ask Arthur to fetch us some. Now come and sit down and tell me where you think you are.”

A few minutes later I heard a clinking of ice cubes, and looked up to see an old man carrying a tray of drinks towards us. I recognised him immediately.

“Not Captain Birdseye, my old blogging mentor! What the hell are you doing here?”
“Well lad, we couldn’t let your 100th blog post go by without a small celebration, could we?” he chuckled.
“You old bugger! And you’ve had me cycling up and down all these sodding lanes like some sun crazed idiot all day, just so that you could bring me here and I could write about it?”
“Aye lad!” he grinned, looking thoroughly pleased with himself.
“Unbelievable!” I said, and gave him a hefty clip around his imaginary ear.
“Aye lad,” he replied, still smirking. “Utter bollocks!”

Mrs. Not Captain Birdseye had even prepared a cake for the occasion.

The last thing I remember is dozing off in a hammock, suspended between a cherry tree at one end and belief at the other, dappled sunshine on my face, the beck coursing around my fingers, a blackbird scratching in the dirt, dust circling up into the hot afternoon air, lengthening shadows, reddening leaves, summer nearly over, feeling drowsy, thinking about our first kiss, thinking about bed and sleep, soft billowy sleep, the sound of children playing in the road outside your bedroom window do you remember the first time up the wooden hills to bedfordshire climbing up to the moon tenderness our mouths and fingers and arms this way and that round and round in circles not only upside down but also inside out breathing kissing loving sleeping whole days and nights, sleeping the sleep of the sleepy the sleep of the loved.

“Sheer Repetition,” said Not Captain Birdseye, waking me with a start hours later, just before carrying me back to my bike and sending me careering down the lane into the darkness with the owls and the wolves and bears and God Knows What Else. “Not a bad name for a blog that, you daft sod. Old bugger yourself.”

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