Friends were around today, yes I know you thought I didn't have any, and they treated me to lunch at the local 'Brewers fare,' on the edge of town. How lovely to eat properly and not have to pay! How lovely to listen to two old (very old) friends, my spiritual mentor and wife, my second family in fact. Sitting in the busy place scoffing food and just being with folks you see oh so rarely was a most enjoyable experience, even if I missed the Inverness v Dundee United game because of it! Roast beef that was not burned, a vast choice of veg, huge salad bowls and an excellent Guinness made the lunch perfectly acceptable. It does show however the cords I wore are shrinking hanging in the cupboard. Some folks don't like such places, I suppose they can afford better, but we are not choosy or rich and having had nothing can enjoy something better than nothing quite well. It was indeed a very busy place. This couple I owe a great deal to, so much that I could never repay, and naturally I told them I would not bother in that case. Having known them since 1971 and watched the family grow up, we will not go into the natural bother that brats cause, it always leaves me with a warm glow inside after being with them. They had come up to stay with an old friend of theirs who now resides in the town, he runs a small church here, and naturally wanted to ensure I was not yet dead. I am glad they are concerned for my welfare although it may be they consider I have money hidden under my mattress of course, they are from Aberdeen after all. Hold on while I check under the mattress.
There was of course a problem! She wished to buy boots! Now I don't know about you but buying shoes with a woman takes a lot of time, and I have previous with this one. However we trundled along to the Freeport Outlet Centre and headed for any, indeed all, the shoe shops. This place is overpriced in my opinion, supposedly cheap stock yet costs more on sale than anything I would buy normally! I decided to take my stand outside while they ventured in to shop number one. This was advisable as I recalled the day we went into Southampton to buy her sandals one hot summers day years ago. Her favourite shop is John Lewis, though it has a different name down there, we ventured in, me expecting a short stay and then moving on to the rest of the world, she 'just browsing,' he ready 'to help'. There was perusing, both him and her, while I sat and waited
looking at the assistants enjoying the view. After half an hour she was trying sandals on, boxes appeared, suspiciously piling up beside her. About an hour later the room darkened as the boxes blocked the light from the windows as they continued the search. Much later I was asleep when the security man woke me up muttering something about 'Going home time sir.' The lights were going out, staff putting their coats on and they still 'discussed' which pair to select. A pair, I know not what, was chosen paid for and we left, much relief all round. As the car headed for home I heard her say "You know I think I preferred the gray ones....."
To avoid being arrested for loitering I remained outside the shop today as when I did enter the price tags hurt me badly. "It's cheaper in Tesco," I muttered several times but no-one was listening. Crowds mobbed the place leaving me to wonder how sad their lives were that a shopping centre was the place to go on a Sunday. Now sometimes there are jolly good practical reasons to be there but surely, especially for those with kids, there must be better ways to spend a chilly afternoon? The majority of us work for five days of the week, Saturdays are usually free for such activities and surely Sunday can be a day to do something different? Maybe it's just me. As I sat I mused about murder as adolescents screamed their way around, giggled at young parents attempts to control toddlers enjoying the chance to run in and out of doorways, I sniggered at men clearly dragged away from the football/pub/DIY/to the joy of shopping, I stared into the cloudy sky at the tree for about an hour while she entered 'Hobbits' or whatever it is called for the second time. Once I suddenly remember, on a day long ago, I left them in M&S or C&A or similar while I wandered around their town. Up the street, down the street, round unusual corners, back and forth, here and there and when I returned much later they still had not bought anything and were at the same spot!
Without this couple I might not be alive. They have had such an influence on my life. Many others have passed through their hands in the days they ran a church and could say similar. Their clear honest, self sacrificing 'love,' not love of the falsely sentimental kind, has resulted in the world being a better place through those who have met them. Their retirement, such as it is, still brings benefit to people as it did to me today. For once, including the shopping, I have no grumbles and no complaints and sleep peacefully (though I did get to watch the other football later).