Saturday, 08 May 2021
SO I just took the dog — CuCullain, aka Cookie, aka Cooks, aka The Cookstar (only to me and the kids that last one) — out for a lengthy walk to a) stop him pawing at me and whining away like a Boeing 747’s engine slowing down, b) obliterate the risk of him expressing his displeasure at the lack of walk in the form of protest poos on my just-mopped kitchen floor and c) figure out how the hell I was going to say goodbye to you.
Yep. I know.
So anyway. We headed up to picturesque Nettlebed for our usual muddy yomp in the stunning woods. God knows we’ve bounded about in the rain, sleet, snow and sometimes even sunshine up there so much in our time that it seemed fitting and rather obvious to reflect on our relationship at the place it all started.
Once we were physically spent (after approx. 45 minutes), I bundled Cookie into the car and went into the Field Kitchen to get myself a takeaway hot choc. Obviously I’m still on the old ketogenic/no-sugar diet but needs must where the devil drives, I always say. Usually whenever I’m breaking a diet.
You see, about a year and a half ago, shortly after I got divorced, the kids and I moved from London to the country (a small village, just over the border in Berkshire).
Unable to find places for the kids at local schools, I would drive 30 minutes each way to the idyllic Nettlebed Community School.
Luckily, most of the kids and mums were friendly and one morning, over a quick tea after drop-off, a new mum friend, the lovely Sara Hunter, suggested I get in touch with the editor of the Henley Standard to see if they’d like a column.
I’m nothing if not obedient — even a little auto-suggestive at times — so I wrote to the paper as soon as I got home.
Later that month, said Ed, that brilliant, kind man of unfailingly good taste Simon Bradshaw, agreed to meet me at the Field Kitchen to go through my CV and discuss the possibility of me writing for this august journal.
Steadfastly avoiding clichés, we got on like a house on fire. And after discussing important, pertinent things like what Terry Hall from The Specials is really like and why dogs are often cooler than human beings, he said he’d like me to write a weekly column. And the rest, as they say, is a teeny bit of local history.
Who knew that that great, glamorous eatery (that is, essentially, a caff in a car park — albeit one that’s full of yummy mummies, beautifully-behaved kids, sensational savoury scones and super-scrummy salads) would come to symbolise the rebooting of my career and, ultimately, my self-confidence? Not I, for sure.
I knew they did a fab hot chocolate — you don’t get to be 3st overweight by only drinking their water with mint or lemon in it, you know.
But I wasn’t aware the FK was a hub of commercial activity, abuzz with entrepreneurial and creative spirit.
Still, that’s all in the past. And what I’m all about now is the future. A future where anything is possible, a future where one day, we might meet again — don’t know where, don’t know when, but I know (well, I hope) we’ll meet again some sunny day.
Kind of like when Take That split up in 1996, officially said goodbye, only to reunite years later, go on to have even more hits together and make loads of middle-aged women really happy.
Yeah, kind of like that, just without the worldwide hits, millions of pounds and happy middle-aged women.
So. I guess all that’s left for me to say now, really, is thanks. Thanks to the Loveliest Neighbour In The World Becky Peates, the Most Wonderful Dog Walker In The World, Philip from WalKeys and The Best Kids In The World for providing such a wealth of material.
And thanks to you lot out there for, if not reading Just Saying every week, at least not complaining too loudly about it.
Thanks and see you later!
23 April 2018
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