Saturday, 30 January 2010

Bizarre gifts and a mystery sign

The Stockwell Strollers went for their last-Saturday-of-the-month walk this morning, and I joined them. The leader is my pal Alan Hardy, above photographed in May 2007, when we were separately backpacking in the Scottish Highlands, when our paths crossed near Alltbeith, Glen Affric. It was a short hike today, benefiting from the overnight frost giving a firm crust over the saturated Essex mud.

Before the start I found a raffle ticket on the ground, turned it over, and its number was 666. I wondered what the day had in store. It was a bright sunny morning, and I got a little suntan, after too many weeks indoors or under grey skies. A splendid morning's 10-mile hike. But the devil's raffle ticket was troubling me. What surprise was in store?

Arriving home I had two articles of post. For myself there was an envelope of newspaper clippings from my pal Rod. He kindly saves bits and pieces that he thinks might interest me, and this batch includes a report from the Telegraph on 28 November 2009, with the headline "Mild winter ahead", describing the Met Office's prediction for the then forthcoming winter. It's easy enough for us to laugh in retrospect isn't it?

And Frank had a parcel from friends in Germany. Their daughter had put together a parcel consisting of a tub of Haribo jelly bears, and a colouring book sponsored by Haribo, full with pictures of sweets. We whisked the colourful jelly bears out of sight, and wondered if we could think of a less appropriate gift for a little boy with diabetes? We know it wasn't intentionally wrong, but it got us thinking about other inappropriate gifts. Snickers for someone with a peanut allergy? Pork pies for Muslims? A ticket for a multi-cultural event for a Klansman?

The portent of the 666 ticket has been nagging me this evening. I've just been up to check Frank, and his blood-sugar level is (unusually) perfect. Only an hour to go today, and nothing can go wrong..... Good night all.

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