Dinner Date…

The time for me to leave England is slowly creeping closer.

I have done quite well this visit meeting up with some girls (now ladies on the verge of getting Freedom Passes and their pensions), whom I went to school with and discovering that we all hated the convent and the nuns, none of us wanted to return so our reunions were poorly attended.

All, that is, except one!

My dear friend, Alex.  I can call her that because, as she so rightly pointed out last week when we met half way between hers and my house for dinner,

“We’ve known each other since we were 12, darling, went to college together, went home with some crazy creepo who offered us a lift in his old bagger and I was your bridesmaid…  Can you believe that Larry,” she turned to hubs, “we’ve known each other since we were 12?”

Yes, we definitely had much more in common than happening to sleep in the same dormitory or sitting next to each other in class.

What we didn’t have in common was she loved school.

Her parents owned a farm near by, they had cows and were almost ruined one year by foot and mouth. I remember being grateful I didn’t have to remember to put my wellied feet in a dishwashing bowl of disinfectant each time I crossed a field…I had no fields to cross.  They also had sheep, pigs and horses.

Her father came under the compulsory purchase hammer twice and lost heaps of money.  it seemed to make no difference to Alex with her contagious take on life.

During our conversation at ZiZi’s in Chiswick, the restaurant we had decided upon, her brother, who was invited along because he was being such a sport and helping her finish her new house in Marlowe that her ex-partner had ditched along with her heart, asked,

“Why did you never bring Vivienne home?” and Alex could not for the life of her, recall!

I told her I had looked out of a train window once on our way back to school from some outing in London and said wistfully, as the acres of countryside rushed passed,

“Imagine someone owning all that land…” to which she had chirped,

“I do…”

My life was changed!  What kind of lucky person owns all that land, further than the eye could see!

Alex was a gangly teenager just like me but now there was an important difference, her parents were landowners.  Mine were diplomats.

I wanted to be able to say I owned great tracts of land, one day…

“You really remember that darling, all these years ago?” she said to me putting her arm around me and hugging me for the photo!


I told her I also remembered what a lively family they were, her mother came for her every time she was allowed to go home, in her landie and head scarf, very jolly hockey-sticks of her…what?!   Alex had her grandmother living with he, always had, no hiding from the family for her, and an older brother.  The one sitting opposite me at the table whom I’d never met!

“I wanted a family like yours…” I said, “and I want to be able to say, ‘I own all that’ when I look outside my window at fields that stretch for miles.”

“You do?” she said.

“Yes, I want what you had when you were a girl, a close knit family, countryside I could call my own.  I have my family, now all I need is the land, and in Texas, there’s lots of that!”

I think I took her back a little!

“Why did you never bring Vivienne home?” asked her brother again!

Alex was always my front man, I was shy, although she didn’t see it as shy, more a stuck-up little, foreign office brat who always got her way and hated rules.

“I wouldn’t go into the college cafeteria on my own and when I managed to persuade Alex I’d stand behind her and point at what I wanted…” I said to hubs and her brother.


“Yes, why did you do that?” she asked.

“Because they were all foreigners and I couldn’t understand a word they were saying!”

Alex howled in her loud, comforting way,

“They weren’t foreign darling…they just had terribly bad English accents.  You’d never heard the likes of them before!”

We both laughed and promised we would keep in touch as we bid one another a fond farewell.

“Why did you never invite me home?”  I asked her amid giggles.

“I don’t know darling, you were too much of a snob… and I had no  idea your parents kept letting you down, otherwise I would have.”

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