Tuesday, 28 March 2017

I have always depended on the cordiality of strangers

Often it works out well. On Sunday, we took both dogs to Ashridge Forest, one of the more magical places in the three counties Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire. Making up for quite a lot of places of the other kind.

For Toffee, not yet seven months old, it was a matter of sheer delight. I think she had never previously encountered such a medley of smells. She ran through mile after mile of forest with her nose trailing along the ground for most of the way, as she revelled in the experience.

Sharing the joys of Ashridge in the spring
After giving the dogs their treat, we headed to the National Trust cafĂ© which does an excellent line in homemade meals and cakes (not of course that we indulge in the cakes). The place was full – it took me twenty minutes even to get to the front of the queue, making me more grateful than ever the existence of a Kindle app on my phone – so we ended up sharing a table with other people.

By good fortune, we found ourselves opposite to women of Indian extraction, with whom we got into a pleasant conversation. We agreed about how awful racist objections to Muslim dress are, how desperate a state the Labour Party is in under its present non-leadership and how appalling it is that Britain is planning to leave the European Union.

It really is depressing watching someone self-inflicting a major injury. Especially when it’s your country.

I was amused that one of the women complained that she was constantly losing credit cards.

“How irresponsible is that?” she asked, I assume rhetorically, “what’s more irresponsible than losing credit cards?”

“Using them?” I asked.

“That’s what husbands are for,” she patiently explained, “to make sure you always have credit on the card.”

Her husband was clearly a different kind from my wife’s. With us, I was always the one running up the credit card bills. It was my wife who spent twenty-five years trying to train me to understand that my life would be a lot less stressful and a great deal more comfortable if I stopped treating “credit” as though it were “funds”.

These days I’m convinced that losing my credit cards would be a lot less irresponsible than using them. But it was fun meeting someone who took the opposite view. Especially in as glorious a setting as Ashridge.

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