He left here in 1962, the man being served at the bar in the Pandora Inn. He was a lawyer in Australia, retired to New Zealand, and was now back to visit family. He reliably informed the barman and me that he was delighted to be here. His family consisted of his 83 year old brother, who was sitting at a table next to us, where we’d decided to have dinner for lunch.
The morning weather, unlike Mr 1962, had been unfriendly. Well, not at 06:30, when we went down to find Freddy, give him a six point turn and take him across the shingle beach, concerned we’d miss the tide. The low tide I mean. You can’t drive across the beach at high tide.
As it turned out, Freddy was unmolested and sat where we’d left him, his butt facing the turdis, his front facing the wrong way.
Denise, expertly and carefully, turned him round. I did suggest it would have been a lot easier had Strong Girl Bong Song been there but, of course, she wasn’t. And Denise didn’t know who she was anyway. It was a flippant and unnecessary remark at a time of rising tension.
Actually, it was not tense at all. Denise shuffled Freddy back and forth while I stood at either end suggesting when she should stop and start. After only a few backs and forths, Freddy faced the right way and we went and parked him up the hill. We were expecting a car park but found only a slightly wider part of the country lane and left him behind the SUV belonging to our neighbour. Then we walked the 24 miles back to the cottage.
No, the weather wasn’t unkind then. It had been very wet earlier. Actually, I was sitting writing yesterday’s post when a strange noise came to me. It was rain falling on the small alcove out the back. It sounded like paper being crumpled up. It was rain. A glance out of the window told me that.
And so it continued for most of the day. Coming and going. Clouds going, clouds coming back. It called for a lazy old day at the cottage and, of course, a meal at the Pandora Inn…
Which is where we overheard the increasingly tense family reunion between the man who left here in 1962 and his 83 year old brother.
The 83 year old claimed he had aristocrats visiting his restaurant. At first we thought he was an artist but, if so, he was an artist with an eatery because he was quite adamant about his restaurant ownership. He didn’t look like a master chef. He also ate his fish chips with his fingers, gesturing to his brother who used cutlery. “That’s very sophisticated!” He erupted, “I always eat with my hands.“
He reminded me of Nicktor and his insistence on using a knife and fork to eat pizza. Maybe this means he’s an aristocrat. Nicktor, I mean.
The brother, the one who served aristocrats in his restaurant, was quite proud to be 83. We know because he proudly proclaimed as much to anyone with hearing. That was because he’d had a few. Beers, not aristocrats. And was continuing to. He also dyed his hair. And beard. Both were very black. He made me realise I was right when I shifted to a light brown dye, then stopped completely for my natural, pepper and salt look.
It was all very jolly and family reunion-y until the 83 year old went to the loo. 1962 man started talking in a low voice to the woman he was with and things suddenly went a bit tense. Something about insurance turned their talk away from the family fun they were almost having.
The 83 year old man with the impossibly black beard returned and 1962 put his coat on. He sat, impatient in his coat, determined to leave, waiting for the moment to come. When it did, 1962 man strode purposely by our table and headed out of the pub. His face, once happy and glorious was glum and severe. The 83 year old was surprised. He stood up and staggered after them. How could he not know, I thought, that his behaviour was annoying his younger brother?
Turns out, this was the most action we saw all day.
The rain came and went. A light shower day, the Met app on my phone called it. At one point, I sat outside for a bit, on the small deck overlooking the river, reading and ducking under the meagre shelter whenever necessary, and Denise stayed inside, rugged up against the bitter cold with 12 jumpers, three blankets and an Icelandic nose warmer.
While I read on the deck, a robin came and watched me. Tilting his head from side to side, wondering what I was up to. I assured him I had no food, but he kept returning, determined to find something. He didn’t. Sadly, I could only manage a rather blurry photo.
He was most insistent. It made no difference. I didn’t even have crumbs. Denise reckoned he knew about the robin I feed inside the extension and expected something himself. Could be, I guess. Maybe all robins have some sort of messaging app in their heads that connects them all. Maybe I’m the Robin God. I’ll never know.
I did manage to Skype with Mirinda for a bit. Well, until her laptop died from lack of juice. And we took great delight in reporting on our exploits from yesterday. Both Denise and I told her, based on her history, she’d have turned back at the beach and decided to stay somewhere else.