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Dreadful Nonsense

"I've read your blog. it's really funny. you should write a column." - Jon Ronson

We’re now two steady weeks into the enforced sobriety, and it’s astonishing how much free time you suddenly have on your hands over the weekend if you’re not able to spend most of it huddled in a corner clutching big pint glasses and wondering where your youth has gone. Yesterday was a case in point: we had an entire day that held no football to entertain He Who Only…, no cleaning to entertain me, we neither of us had study or work or writing or furniture making, and we’d spent Saturday lying around in our pants, so that had already been well covered.

What to do? We decided some outdoor exercise would be exactly what was called for, and so off we marched to beautiful Dalston, and from there a short train ride to Camden brought us to a quick bus ride up a hill until – lo and behold –there stood Hamstead Heath.

I love the Heath. It seems madness that in the middle of over-built, over-crowded, over-worked and over-paid London there can be slap bang in the middle such an enormous and expansive space filled with trees that stand boldly silhouetted against the skyline, hills that stand towering arrogantly over the tallest buildings, and something approaching fresh air and a feeling of space and the glorious opposite of claustrophobia.

I had been promised an afternoon of dog spotting, and I was not let down – they were there, many and varied, some of them carrying balls, some sticks, some frisbys, some the bodies of unattended toddlers, and more of them than you would imagine answering to them name of Bobby. I tried to steal one or two of them, hiding them in my bag and keeping them for later, but He Who Only… kept taking them off me and returning them to their wild owners, which I protested against in the strongest terms.

To try to avoid a scene, He Who Only… decided that leaving the beaten, muddy and occasionally slippery track was probably for the best, and we left behind the best of civilisation to walk under the cover of the trees, stepping into a huge collection of golden brown leaves carpeting the forest floor, both of us feeling soothed and reassured by the never ending cycle of nature. I stopped and took some photographs. We gazed across the horizon. We breathed deep and we breathed easy, and then decided to go get some caffeine-induced frenzy in the nearest Starbucks.

And that’s when the fun really started. Wandering off the beaten track is of course to be recommended – taking the path less travelled can sometimes make all the difference, as someone once observed – but the path more travelled, the designated path, that one has gravel, controlled slopes, steps, sometimes even tarmac in order to help you along your way. The path less travelled? Is an obstacle course.

I watched as He Who Only… stepped carefully and gallantly in front of me, finding the safest route. Three times I saw him stumble and slip, regain his footing and turn around to help me. Three times I carefully and deliberately stepped right into the exact spot he had walked, and three times I, too, stumbled and slipped. Three times he caught me just in time, and three times I stood clutching on to him for dear life, paralysed by hysterical laughter that threatened to tip us both over.

We got safely out the other side, me with a pain in my ribs thanks to the force of my panicked laughter, and him with the strongest impression yet that his girlfriend is a total idiot.


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