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Encounter

I am walking an unaccustomed road today: High St Kensington.  Simon and I are heading for  a pub to catch up, when I shock him by accosting a woman with long wavy hair like polished bronze- even more when we hug. The chances of a Highland farmer meeting a friend by chance in the street in London must be slim, but Isobel agrees to join us. We head into a side street to find a small bar with leather upholstery, timber panelling & beer on the handles. We  seek todays story – I’m not sure of mine but tell yesterday’s ‘transit’ where my journey from the airport to the city centre echoes others by dislocated populations when choices are made about who gets out and who stays.

Isobel spoke of a holiday with her mother- a rare event – at a time when her father’s health was bringing trouble to the older woman. The weather turned sour and Isobel grew an image in her mind of a pleasant place of refuge – a pub with an open fire. They see a building with a light in the window but no sign – a pub but ‘ as if it shouldn’t be there’. Inside there is a roaring fire and with drink in hand the two women request that they join a women already in place. She readily accepts and they start talking. The women  has fleshy arms & heavy breasts, wide thighs are cased in white leggings and her round face has a smile like the sun. Isobel is more used to travel and the encounters that depend on  strangers’ meetings, but it is her mother that the seated woman engages with. As time passes and wine is drunk – her mother finds herself discussing the issues that she was carrying with her in such a way that she hardly knew if she or the stranger woman was telling them. By the time the evening ended and the hailstorm passed on, her mother had lightened her mind as if carrying a bag of split sticks that she’d thrown one by one on the pub fire.

Time to move: Simon and I to supper and Isobel to Clerkenwell.

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