A thirteen-minute bus ride from home brings you to the Stone Jug. Its sixteenth-century building houses a proper pub, without music, games or electronic screens, has real ale, friendly staff and good food from the kitchen. On recent Fridays I have taken to walking the four miles or so from Ampthill along part of the Greensand Ridge Walk, my companion takes a bus from Wilstead and we meet just after midday for a couple of hours of nattering. John busses it back, while I walk back or I’m collected by the wife about a mile into Maulden just beyond the Dog and Badger, which is not a proper pub.
Yesterday we spent some our time mulling over John’s visit to Brussels and the European Parliament, where he saw a debate on the migrant problem. It reminded me of the EU in/out membership debate Britain is going to have, and the referendum. Between John and me there is no disagreement that the EU and its previous forms are a good thing. For me, I reflect that I never had to fight a war on European soil as did my grandfather at Ypres and my father on a Normandy beach: the EU has kept the peace. Those of us in the UK who want to leave push a nationalist agenda over the interdependence of the European family of nations.
But I digress and back in the Jug, John and I, not for the first time, got onto the onset of ageing, for example, the annual flu vaccination (to which all over-65s are entitled, by the NHS).
‘Have you arranged for your jab?’ I asked. ‘Mine’s tomorrow.’
‘No, certainly not, never have.’
‘And, have you had the flu?’ I probed.
‘Not since I can remember.’
‘Me neither,’ I said, ‘so it must work.’
‘Either not having the jab or having it. Who’s to know which is better?’
Both of us narrowed eyes at this shaky notion, whereupon he finished his Merlot and I my pint of Otter. Time to go, but another Friday lunchtime nicely spent.