I am incredibly easily pleased. An over-priced pair of shoes here; a packet of salt
and vinegar crisps there; I wander through life safe in the knowledge that
despite my predictable and often predatory hunger-related grumpiness, it will
only take the slightest thing to make me happy again. The mere mention of
sunshine, a kitten, or a Jaguar E-Type and I’ll be beaming uncontrollably and
stupidly into the distance: the way the average ovulating woman will look if
she gets within two hundred metres of a baby (and the way I look if I get
within two hundred metres of a pizza).
Anyway, in an attempt to avoid spending my summer watching Gilmore Girls repeats, sinking slowly further into the cushions of my sofa until eventually people will look at me and see only the upholstery – like Jim Broadbent in Harry Potter – I decided to place more importance on these trivialities, Oscar Wilde style.
So in the spirit of not becoming Horace Slughorn, I went on a mini picnic with my lovely friend Daphne. Daphne Ash is a wonderful woman who enjoys salad, has great taste in television, and a name like a superhero’s secret identity. Now,
to brush up on some basic comic-book etiquette: you do not invite a superhero to a picnic. Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne and their kind tend to be too busy struggling with quick wardrobe changes and saving the world to RSVP. Plus, it’s hard to capitalise on that brooding look when you have a mouth full of strawberries and cream. A mere picnic this was not. It was a quest for salvation. You see, Daphne Ash and I have shared many a healthy snack over the years (not including the Easter Egg Incident of 2010) but never anywhere more exotic than my garden. For too long snack enthusiasts have been banished to a position a few metres from their television screen, hunched miserably over their chosen refreshment, easily identifiable by how much they look like Jim Broadbent. But no more! In a breath-taking act of defiance, we severed the digital umbilical cord and took our snacks not just metres from our television screen, but miles. Yes, that’s right, miles.
At the top of Pitstone Hill (part of the Ashridge Estate, on the Hertfordshire/Buckinghamshire border) the sun was shining, the air was clear, the view was spectacular – and the wind was so annoying that we walked back and ate our snacks in the car/Ashmobile. Perhaps we should have worn capes.