“It’s funny just how far away from someone you can feel while holding them. The distance always feels the furthest when you’re right next to them. While she sat in my arms, I was staring at the flowers, the fountain, anything, anything but her. She was everywhere. Or at least, she had been. She had been in everything, everywhere I looked. And now I could barely feel her, just inches away. It had started to change.
” ‘What had changed?’ people always wonder to themselves. Nothing, of course, is the one answer they never consider. The world just kept turning, heedless, regardless, impassive, as it always does. Nothing has to change.
“How long have we been here? I’m not bored, but it feels like forever. I’m still just confused, though that’s no excuse. I don’t know what to do, how to help her. I don’t know how to stop her getting hurt. I think I should be more selfish. I should be worrying about me. But I’m not. Some things never change.
“Eventually it’s over, and I don’t even know what happened. Is it better? Is it worse? All I know is after the day I’ve had, I really need to get drunk. ‘I’ve only got a fifty quid note, mate.’ ‘Then you really need some sodding change.’
“And he’s right, you know. I really need a sodding change.”
On about three separate occassions and for various reasons, I had been forced to turn down invitations to afternoons out on Box Hill, so it was interesting to finally see what all the fuss was about. Zaki was understandably underwhelmed at the response to his text invites, but to be fair to those who didn’t turn up, we had driven out to the middle of nowhere (sorry for that roundabout navigation, Adam) to find an utterly generic hill (no, I lie, there was a beautiful view of…Dorking!?). Mostly it was nice to hang out with friends without there being curry or a Weatherspoons involved, so we could all pretend that we had something vaguely resembling a real social life.
To be fair, it’s a pretty steep hill with a gradient harsh enough that it disappears from view after a few dozen yards. So, naturally, like any mature adults in our position, we took to hurtling down the hill on skateboards in an (utterly unsuccessful) attempt to break our necks. Some, to whom this was old hat, were more daring than others, and the whole thing got continuously more dangerous as the light failed and then disappeared completely. I’m sure there was an intended satirical social commentary in our actions, but I forget what it was. Maybe it was just fun.
When Adam and I arrived we found Zaki and Dicko in a Western-themed pub (err, saloon – I didn’t quite dare wander inside, especially given the music that was drifting out) which they unconvincingly described as “just like stepping into America”. Andrea turned up with T later on (and gave me a ride home – with an ease that implies she actually knew the route beforehand instead of making it up as she went along which rather struck me as cheating) but she refused to give in to our “it’s perfectly safe really” attempts to get her onto a skateboard. As for me, it had to be done eventually, and at least now I can say I’ve done it. But Zaki, Box Hill is still in the middle of nowhere.
photographs courtesy of Zaki’s digicam, snapped by whoever was holding it at the time!