This lunchtime, Michael Watts came for a visit and a drink in The Trusty Servant Inn, to which he drove me. We had an exhilarating chat. By amazing coincidence he had just come from Alex Kelly in Fordingbridge who, now having set up an Independent facility in the care field, had worked for many years with Helen. Because Helen Eales was known to have a sister called Jackie, my friend mentioned it to me. As he, a Londoner, said: ‘It’s a small world’.
Bidding goodbye in the car park, I walked back home. Turning at the clopping of hooves some way behind me I saw Berry, riding Poppy (see post of 4th January). They had just had a very frightening experience, having been almost hit by a white van careering down the hill. A police vehicle drew up as we were talking, and Berry reported the incident.
Today was clearly a day for linking up with old friends. This evening Jackie drove us to Ringwood for a meal in Curry Garden with Geoff and Sheila Austin. In the 70s and 80s I had worked and played both rugby and cricket with Geoff who has appeared in a number of these posts. Having spent time with him only once or twice in the intervening years I had never met Sheila. Jackie was introduced to Geoff once at a reunion of Westminster Social Services Area One Team three years ago. We were pleased to learn that they had needed to visit Ringwood and wanted to meet us and perhaps have a curry. Naturally we suggested our favourite venue in this market town. It is one they had often visited with Geoff’s late mother.
The meal and the service were of their usual excellent qualities. We all drank Kingfisher.
Such a foursome could easily have resulted in a conversation between the two men swapping stories with which the women were not familiar. There was naturally a certain amount of this, but we were always able to include the ladies. We found Geoff’s wife delightful, and she and Jackie developed a particular rapport. There are those relationships in life which are intense or involved in a particular way for a certain time and which stay with us during periods of long separation or absence. When meeting again after even many years, they just roll away. This was one of those.