A late night post. I'm sitting in my Front Room, computer on lap, and preparing to post the last entries in the special effects photography contest for the Shire Harvest Festival and Fair. My side lamp throws a perfectly round circle of light on the ceiling directly above me and a much larger circle of light around my chair. The rest of the room lies in semi darkness. I don't feel the need to turn on another light. It's just me and my computer. Oh, the tele is on as well. It keeps me company - you know - filling the room with voices and laughter. Black Adder... is there anything better than an episode of Black Adder I ask you?
The side widow is open letting in a cool breeze off the canal. I smell Autumn in the air. Autumn in Cloverdale is a blessing from above. Where else on God's green Earth would you want to be?
The Coastal Express was on time thanks to efficiency of the border guards at Fernwood on the Moor's train station, our rail link to The Other World. The train pulled into Cloverdale in plenty of time to make a stop at one of my two favorite places to catch up on local news with old friends- the Hairy Lemon or the Kicking Donkey Pubs. The Hairy Lemon and Kicking Donkey are the places to be if you're ever in Cloverdale on a Friday night. The Kicking Donkey serves great pub meals and the Hairy Lemon serves very unusual local brews. After careful consideration I went with The Hairy Lemon. I'd eaten on the train.
The Lemon's public rooms were wall to wall with locals. Some pretty sauced with Scrumpy, the local ale. Others, like me, enjoyed their unleaded sodas mixed with good company. I found my posse sitting at our usual booth near the billiard tables. They shouted and waved me over when I entered the room, then scooted around the half circle table to open up a spot for me to sit. Just as my behind hit the cushion, Lucy walked up with an ice cold Diet Coke with lemon and straw. She knows how to make a bloke feel at home.
"Is this what the doctor ordered?" she asked.
"Nectar of the Gods," I replied.
"No, you're wrong there sir." Mildew Flanders chided in. "Cloverdale Scrumpy is the Nectar of the Gods!"
Everyone at our table and others within earshot (Mildew has a voice that tends to carry after he's had a few) cheered in agreement - holding up their glasses of Scrumpy to drive home the point.
"I'd love to try your Scrumpy...." the table fell silent in disbelief. Glasses of Scrumpy momentarily froze to the lips of those in mid drink. Everyone knew I was Mormon. Everyone knew Mormons and alcohol didn't mix. "but.... If I did we'd be keeping eternal company at the Hairy Lemon in that dark place where Scrumpy fills the rivers and lakes. You all enjoy your nectar and I'll enjoy mine. Cheers!"
Of course, my statement of faith drew the usual 'Can't handle it' jeers but nothing I hadn't heard before. They stopped when I took out my pen and put it to napkin. I wrote 'Missionary Contacts and Addresses'. "Let's see, who's gong to be the first on my list to get a call from our fine young men in dark suits?" That shut them up. It works every time.
Stories circled the table for the next hour. Many we'd heard before. You know how it is with a group of friends. What's interesting is how they change with each telling. My job in this sorority is to fill them in on life in The Other World. They sure had lots of questions about health care reform. That is one thing they don't understand about life outside of the Confederacy. I do my best to explain but usually change the subject to take them off the scent. There are some things best left at the border.
Two Cokes and an hour later my voice was nearing its limit. It was a long train ride to Cloverdale and my bed was calling. I excused myself, scooted out from behind the table, bid everyone a good bye, slipped Lucy a few bills for keeping my glass full and wound my way through the crowd and out the pub's door onto Lark Lane. The singing from the pub fell quiet when I turned the corner onto Canal Street. A block later and my key was in the lock. I was home for the weekend.
So, here I am staring at the photographs yet once again hanging from the clothesline strung across the fireplace. I believe I've settled on the winner. That may change when I wake up but for now I think the judging is done.
These are the last entries. Enjoy. I'm going to bed.............