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