I spent a lovely evening yesterday in the most pleasant company.
I caught the train from Warwick for a dinner date at the Paw Paw, adjacent to the canal, in Banbury. This Chinese restaurant is a particular favourite of mine and is also very close to home when ‘Futurest’ and I are in port. But I know also that it’s a similar preference for many other boaters as well, including my two good friends Bones and Kate, whom I met there at 6pm.
Two other couples joined us at the same time. John and Fiona of ‘Epiphany’, whom I had met once before whilst I was in Banbury, and Caroline and husband, whose name I cannot now remember unfortunately and to whom I apologise ashamedly if he happens to be reading this blog. The management had placed two tables together to accommodate all seven of us and unfortunately he and I were at opposite ends and never had very long during the whole evening to speak to each other.
I was introduced to Caroline by Bones and was astonished that she and I already knew each other. A few years ago she had been the very caring physiotherapist, who had done her best to encourage Miranda’s failing limbs to perform as best they could. At the time my wife and I had been very grateful to see Caroline every week at the hospital. She was always so positive towards Miranda who benefitted enormously from the attention.
After the meal we crossed over Banbury Lock where the noise of the water pouring over the top of the gate in the darkness evoked my deep feeling of needing to cruise again. I hadn’t passed through a lock for far too long during the cold winter months and the sound of the tumbling water made me realise how much I was missing it.
The play at Banbury’s little theatre in the old mill was very well performed by the Saltmine Company. It was the first time I had seen ‘The Screwtape Letters’ adapted by Nigel Forde from the story by C S Lewis, of the continuing conflict of good and evil in the world and the failure of the powers of darkness to deflect a devout Christian in his life. To me it was like a modern version of the old medieval ‘miracle plays’, extremely well written and beautifully performed by the actors. In particular the men rendered their parts with great strength I thought. It was splendidly done!
When we came out of the theatre the rain was pouring down and it was time for us all to go our separate ways. Above all it was very sad to say goodbye to Bones and Kate as it will probably be the last time we meet before I leave for my northern adventures. But of course we have all vowed to continue emailing. With today’s modern forms of communication things need not be quite as depressing as they used to be in my merchant navy days, when the only affordable way keeping in touch over long periods was by a very limited amount of handwriting on a pale blue ‘Airletter’ form, which took days to arrive at its destination.
However after such a memorable evening I was a bit glum as I awaited, in the slanting rain on the cold and drafty platform, the arrival of my late train to Warwick. It reminded me very much of the old days returning to the ship late at night from ashore.
It was a sublime pleasure once again to see ‘Futurest’ when I arrived home. Like me she was very damp and wet on the outside but lovingly warm on the inside!