“Be careful on those steps.” Well, sorry to let you down, Damien, but your stone country steps are sodding wet, covered with moss, and exist in this moment purely for my demise. “Yeah, yeah I will, thank you.” He looks at me, clearly intending to wait this out and observe my city-style descent. I take a moment to regard him. He’s got knotted, thick black hair and round glasses that are older than I am – he’s as kind as they come, though.
I am incredulous. Just piss off. Let me fall down these stairs in peace. I’m not angry at him, really. I’m angry at my lack of suitable footwear. I knew I was staying in a tiny village; I knew I was going to “immerse myself in nature”, and yet here I am in Chuck Taylor double platformed Converse that cost more than two nights at the BnB. I’m overly aware that I haven’t yet moved as a group of three older men approach us and gesture familiarly toward Damien. He nods at me and retreats to the pub, presumably to man the bar. I hear them laughing inside and at once there seems to be hundreds of voices, all engaged in a conversation where they won’t run out of things to say.
The yellowing stone pub walls look warm and inviting, and the baskets of Japanese Spindle at the windows make me want to go inside. I’m a sucker for a good plant. Instead I choose to stay where I am. I look through the window. The room is barely lit by vintage, moth-eaten lamps. The people inside have merry faces that are pink with hops and I could convince myself that in this moment they’re all in love. Truly, I want to go in, but it’s not mine in there. I turn, reluctantly, to face the next part of my evening.