Alex James

Slow Life

Happy hour

‘I’m going to look at the dandelions,’ I said. ‘There’s loads of them.’

‘I’ll come,’ she said.

‘Come on. Hurry up, then. It’s happy hour.’

It was the end of the day and suddenly still and sunny. The star was taking a curtain call. Earlier there had been hail so heavy you had to raise your voice against it, wind hard from all quarters and rolling thunder with skies so grey all might have seemed hopeless to anyone who hadn’t spotted the pink flowers by the pond. It takes a groaning grey sky to really set off a pink flower. But now, gold light was flying in sideways, and green and blue were everywhere and looked good together for spring. Sometimes, in the hour before sunset, the light is so rich and dazzling even a pile of tyres sitting on a concrete slab looks like God might have put them there just to show off.

It was all so pretty it seemed completely abstract, suddenly, but there were practicalities to consider too. I had to break into the shed where the quad was. I was wrenching the door open with very little refinement when she arrived, with her hood pulled tight around her head and her hands jammed into her middle.

I wasn’t sure whether to be angry with the builders for locking the quad up and going home with the key, or for not locking it up properly, as I was inside in 20 seconds. She kicked stones while I fiddled about trying to make it start and she laughed when I graunched the wall reversing out.

We got married five years ago this week. I was a brightly lit pile of tyres back then, in a famous band.

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