Out for a drive with my oldest, bestest friend this morning, enjoying the rare good weather, we drove with the windows rolled down and the music at full volume. If I wanted you to think I was cool I’d lie and tell you the music was R&B or techno or rap or drum ‘n’ bass, but I think you all know by now that I’m not the coolest kid in school. We listened to Take That; their old album. So old it wasn’t even a CD, but a cassette tape. “Everything Changes,” and “Back For Good,” blared out as we sang our little hearts out, remembering the days when we truly thought we were in love with those men. Zannie was in love with Robbie Williams, and I was in love with Mark Owen. We were going to marry them and have their babies.
Somehow that didn’t work out. And frankly, we are quite relieved.
We stayed close to our little village, we didn’t want to end up in the centre of Glasgow, or caught in congested traffic. We drove by the farms in our village, past the cows (or the coos, as we call them), past the sheep and the wallabies (yes, our village has a field full of wallabies), and then onwards and outwards to the hills and mountains situated close to Zannie’s house.
Sometimes, when I take the time to appreciate it, and when the weather conditions are just right, the scenery from my very doorstep takes my breath away. The hills we found ourselves driving towards were highlighted by the sun, drawing attractive patterns in the valleys where the light tried hard to reach. The mountains were decorated with sheep and the rare goat, gorging themselves on the luscious green of the foliage.
Zannie drove on, further out into the wilderness, where it felt like no one had ever set foot before. The nature was rife, flowers were blooming, there was a stream that trickled down the mountain, with crystal clear fresh water that I’d spent many a happy time paddling in when I was growing up here, on family picnics on the hills.
“Shall we go to the wee castle up the road?” Zannie asked me, tying her long dark hair up in an attempt to cool down.
“Ah why not,” I replied, “Might be a wee bit busy though, tourists and weddings and all that…”
When we approached the winding country road that led to the castle, we saw a commotion ahead. There was an ambulance which was just driving off, and a group of people in a semi-circle, talking amongst each other, wildly and animated. Obviously there had been some sort of accident and they were the excited onlookers.
Zannie parked at the side of the road between a Land Rover and a Mondeo (reverse parking which took all of 10 minutes…) and the two of us walked arm in arm towards the crowd, not wanting to appear nosy, but curious as to what had happened.
Honestly, we were just going to ignore the accident scene, just walk past, turn right and stroll along the path to the castle, but when we saw the feathers strewn everywhere across the road, curiosity got to both of us and we joined the onlookers.
“Aww no, did someone hit a bird?” Zannie, the animal lover, asked the nearest man. White and brown downy feathers were all over the road, blowing in the slight breeze. There was no sign of any road kill, no bird, no animal. There wasn’t even a single spot of blood.
“Naw,” the guy said, looking bemused, “Naw, a tourist was hit by a car. He was ok, said he wasn’t even hurt, nothing broken but he’s gone to the hospital to be checked over.”
Zannie and I exchanged glances, and she furrowed her perfectly plucked eyebrows. “But,” she turned back to the man, “what are all the feathers from?”
“He was wearing a puffa jacket. When the car hit, it ripped the jacket right open and oot came all the feathers.”
I laughed, I couldn’t help it. It was the worst time to get a fit of the giggles, but as soon as Zannie looked at me, and I looked at her, we both burst into uncontrollable laughter.
“What on earth,” I snorted, “was he doing wearing a puffa jacket on a hot day like this?”
“Och, he was American.” The man said. “They American tourists think oor climate is freezing even when it’s 30 degrees.” The statement only made Zannie snort loudly, bend over double and wheeze with laughter. Trying to hold in my own laughter caused by the sight of Zannie and her face contorted, I dragged her away from the scene, my shoulders shaking.
The rest of the morning it kept coming back to us. One minute we would be sitting on the swings, talking about dissertations, the next, one of us would be doubled over, unable to breath and wheezing, “I…I…hahaha…I thought it was…a…BIRD!” and we laughed for another ten minutes or so.
And a few minutes after Zannie had dropped me off at my house, the phone rang. I picked up the receiver and before I could even say anything, I could hear laughter on the other end. “I…found…I found haha!...a feather in my hair!” And we were off again.
Poor guy, in the very unlikely chance that you are reading this, I apologise for finding your predicament so amusing. It wasn’t exactly your predicament we were laughing at, in fact, I was genuinely concerned. It was just the feathers. And the puffa jacket. And Zannie’s contorted face as she rasped and snorted.
But at least now I know where to go if I want to plump up my downy pillows.
Totally unacepptable. Sorry.