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Saturday, 27 September 2014

Over the Dawson trail

"It's bloody freezing in here," I tell farmer Adam, as we're sat in his third-floor flat, overlooking the Itchen, with its soaring seagulls and white boats bobbing on wind-blown waves.

"You're soft for a Scotchman," he says, not looking up from the laptop on which he's studying the weather forecast and planning his day. "You know what I wear all day long, working my fields?"

"Pink bra and a thong?" I say.

"Shorts and a T-shirt," he says. 

"What if it's snowing?" I say.

"I pull on wellies and do 100 bench presses to get my metabolism moving," he says.

"Hampshire is the last place I'd have looked for a macho moron," I tell him. "You learn something new every day."
"I'm sure you do," he says.

"So can I have the central heating on?" I say. "I'm perishing."

"Get used to it," he says. "Bit of cold is good for you."

"What about this wonderful southern hospitality you're noted for?"

"Wrong country, mate. What we're noted for is stiff upper lips and doing hilarious Scotch accents when we meet one of you in the pub."

"I noticed that," I say. "See, the problem is I caught the flu in 1968. It hit suddenly and put you in bed for a week of shivering misery. You felt like Sam McGee in the Yukon: "'It's the cursèd cold, and it's got right hold till I'm chilled clean through to the bone.' I've not been warm since."

He shuts his laptop and stands, ready to leave for the farm. "How did your consultations go yesterday?" he says.

"Went fine," I tell him. "Got loads of advice for before and after the op."

"Such as?" he says, coming a little closer, as I'm sat between him and the door. Bit too close, actually, for a man in shorts

"Eat plenty of prunes," I say.

He laughs. "They tell that to everyone, then when you leave they go, 'Sucker.' 

"Prunes would be good if they didn't have stones and were a different colour," I say.

"Or a different fruit altogether," he says. "Like grapes."

"You any idea why people take grapes to hospital patients?" I say.

"I sure do," he says. "You don't feel like food or drink after surgery. Grapes slip down easily, give you a bit of both."

"Makes sense," I say, averting my gaze from his muscular legs. "Then I have to practise the Kegel exercises five times a day. Oh and I've not to ride my horse for three months after the op."

"I didn't know you had a horse," he says.

"I don't," I say.

"So how can you not ride it?" he says.

"I can't," I say. "But Harley Street's a different planet. This woman sends her kids to private school and has a city financier husband. Assumes everyone has a horse, a yacht and a house in the country."

"Right, I'm off," he says. "Got to get moving. It's only 5 degrees out this morning."

"It's 15 degrees back home in Killearn," I say, glancing at the temperature app on my laptop.

"That's because you left the heating on," he says, giving a little shimmy with his shorts and shutting the door behind him.

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