Catherine Ormell


June Berry

Dizzied by the train and cawing weekenders, I head to a teashop to be steadied by its pine trestles and sunken meringues. Here, a rower wiping a blackboard snaps, No, we haven’t any Rooibos tea, as if,’ First sip at homecoming, it’s going badly, my pre-reunion nerves, date-of-birth… they go about so openly.

Later, an onrush of hi-vis taffeta convulses the place as if in an 80s display. But our economic supper sets us up as Prisms: serious in rain-wrinkled office clothes, flat-shoed. Did we really sprawl on lawns, once, invent a future of visions and fritillaries, while kohled and scatty in demeanour, and with hair copiously mouse?

Here we are, again. We sit in clumps, conform, with mixed success disguise our griefs. Mildly euphoric to be let off cooking a meal, we fall, unwisely, on the curried parsnip soup. It is only as we are eyeing dessert, when the fundraisers start clapping rosily as if, and quietly, outside, the cedar dematerializes: we grasp the time’s gone, deferred to pleasantries.

Afterwards, we’re co-opted to lie awake, as if worrying a tricky subject: screams, bazookas, champagne-tossing, and rainy river moods. The first train out’s delayed; blitheness never felt less innocent. The platform’s a crush but should we mind now being notional? The expected walk around the meadow signed Private function only.

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