When we arrived ‘home’ another cup of tea was made and we went into the sitting room. We sat and talked but every now and again he would leave me to let the dogs out. Apparently they couldn’t be all let out at once and I don’t know or care why.
We talked of old times. He and my husband took the boat together in their teens when times were hard in Ireland. I loved the old stories of how he and Peter worked in the brewery even though neither of them drank at the time. Peter with his blonde curly hair and he being tall, dark and handsome, both steeped in Irish charm, had no problem in attracting the English girls.
I almost forgot the smelly van and the barking dogs and began to soften towards him. But then as he moved towards me the reverie ended. He said he had put on a new shirt that day and underneath the doggy clothes he was clean. I am sure he was but the only way I could have gone near him was if he stripped naked and I was not going to suggest that. It was after all 4 pm on a Wednesday afternoon in rural Ireland!
I have to be truthful. My vision of what lay before me when I got off that train was of his big strong arms around me and the remembered comfort and pleasure that once gave me. A little country cottage, atop a hill with a view, far away from everything would have been a bonus. There was indeed a wonderful panoramic view of the beautiful Irish countryside so one out of a tsunami of unfulfilled dreams came true.
He had the idea I might be staying over but I had given him no indication of that before I arrived and all I wanted was to be taken to the railway station. We climbed back into the van again for the last time.
He has been telephoning every day since and before I began this episodic tale I unburdened myself to him. I told him that there could never be anything between us. Whatever there once was is well and truly over. I explained that I felt he could have made more of an effort to please me and he mentioned the candle. You have become a mountainey, doggy man and I have no place in your life, I told him. I understand, he said, but let’s still be friends, after all, old friends are the best, he said. The phone calls have ceased.
There’s no fool like an old fool and I don’t mean HIM.