Mad­die’s World

In her weekly col­umn, Mad­die Grigg shares tales from her life in ru­ral Dorset . . .

The People's Friend - - This Week -

I’VE had a mes­sage out of the blue from my very first flat­mate. We lived to­gether nearly 40 years ago in the top flat of a beau­ti­ful Re­gency ter­race.

As I re­mem­ber, she had the pala­tial room at the front, with big win­dows over­look­ing the city. I had the poky room in the mid­dle which had only a sky­light.

But I didn’t mind. My room was cosy and hers also served as a liv­ing-room for the two of us.

Our land­lord’s wife used to run a dance school. She was lovely. The land­lord, how­ever, was gruff and grumpy. He in­sisted on hav­ing the com­mu­nal front door bolted from the in­side at eleven o’clock at night.

I re­mem­ber once com­ing back to the flat af­ter my train was late. The door was firmly locked, I couldn’t get in and I couldn’t make any­body hear. I had to walk across the city to a friend’s house where I slept on the floor!

But I felt it was my fault for be­ing late home in the first place. Oh, to be young again.

My friend has mes­saged me be­cause she wants us to meet up. She’s work­ing nearby, teach­ing for­eign stu­dents.

I haven’t seen her for about 10 years. Back then, she was toned and beau­ti­ful and I felt very in­fe­rior. I know she’ll still be like that, so I’ll need to make sure my arms are cov­ered up, and I won’t wear any­thing too cling­ing around the waist.

I’m won­der­ing what to wear when I re­alise time is run­ning out be­cause I have to drop Arty off for a play-date with Digby, a friendly, flat-coat­e­dretriever-cross-labrador be­long­ing to Mr Grigg’s cousin.

So I just put on my usual jeans and top en­sem­ble and get go­ing. I haven’t got time to faff around. My friend will just have to take me as I am.

I drive across the county bor­der and park out­side a vil­lage hall where there is a large area for ex­er­cis­ing dogs. The plan is to in­tro­duce Arty and Digby on neu­tral ter­ri­tory and have them meet by “ac­ci­dent”.

Arty shoots across the field, closely fol­lowed by Digby. They have a mu­tual sniff, do a lit­tle dance and then play chase.

It’s love at first sight, and they’re even happy to­gether when we put them in the boot of the car to take them to Mr Grigg’s cousin’s house, to pick up later. It couldn’t be bet­ter.

I look at my watch. I’m go­ing to be late for my meeting with my friend.

We’ve de­cided on a pub lunch at Ab­bots­bury, half­way be­tween Lush Places and where she’s do­ing her teach­ing stint.

There’s a lovely walk up the hill to St Cather­ine’s Chapel, which has fab­u­lous views out across Ch­e­sil Beach to Port­land in the east, and Golden Cap and be­yond in the west.

Mine is the only ve­hi­cle in the car park, so it looks like I’m here first. I find a table to sit at and look up ev­ery time a slim brunette walks in. And then there’s no mis­tak­ing her. My pretty, toned and tanned old friend.

I get up from my seat and for­get that she’s at least three inches taller than me. We ex­change kisses and then or­der a lime and soda each, the last of the big spenders.

It doesn’t take long be­fore we’re rem­i­nisc­ing about the lovely flat and the not-solovely land­lord. We re­call spec­tac­u­larly gate-crash­ing a stranger’s party in the Re­gency ter­race by climb­ing up on to the flat roof through my win­dow, then com­ing down through their sky­light. Oh, to be young again.

We’re talk­ing ten to the dozen and then re­alise we need to or­der food. So, just like old times, we or­der a plough­man’s lunch, and two plates to share.

Two hours go by; we’re up on the hill and gaz­ing out to the sea. It’s been a lovely get to­gether. We should do this more of­ten. ■

Arty and Digby be­came fast friends.

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