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So, minding one's own beeswax, I was affronted in the town by a goat herder from the Eastern steppes of Mongolia. On closer inspection, she was a very attractive goat herder and she was gesturing at some papers she carried in her hand. She smiled. As I waited for the cars to pass between us I supposed she was lost and needed directions on her map. I smiled back and darted across the road. She was mostly wearing red wool. She had a sherper hat pulled down over the top of her noggin with two thick plaits of black hair either side of her dark skinned visage. Gosh, she was awfully yummy and she smiled and I smiled and I already knew she was no lost goat herder but some well intentioned lass who would now attempt to eke out of me my bank details. It was for Greenpeace.

Her: Would you like to help to save the planet?

Me: Not really. I'm not that concerned for it. I think that Gaia will prevail.

Really? Who's Gaia?

O, you know, the Earth Spirit as coined by Lovelock. Do you know?


Well, basically, Gaia, which is the planet and her balance, will survive us humans as it did the dinosaurs. I know there will be some scars...

O right. I see. I believe in that a lot as well but I still want to help.

That's fine if you do but I also think that there is no real point. The flaw in every system is man and his nature. As long as we are still here, things are fucked. What we need is a complete destruction of us by nuclear radiation and then the cockroaches will inherit the earth...

cockroaches, errrrh, I don't like them much...(with her fingers playing with her hair)

...maybe not but they survive radiation, one of the few creatures that does. Then they will be in charge. (smiling)

That's really interesting.(wide eyed)

Yeah, well, it's just something I read.(all humble) Good luck(smiling)

Thanks.(really smiling)

See you around.(really smiling)

Bye.(really smiling)

And I carried on up the hill to the video shop. I did my business, did what I had to do and then realised I'd done it all wrong and had to go and get a thing for the other thing. Walked up the hill, round the top of town and back down the other side, then nipped down the alley next to the poolhall and there she was. We headed straight for each other, smiling of course.

Me: Had any luck?

Her: A little.

I reached for her id badge which was swinging from her neck, caught it, had a look of what she looked like without her hat on, smiled and asked:

Where do you guys come from then? (I forgot to mention that there were three of them, Greenpeaceniks, wandering around Bude being all overly happy and smiley)

O, from Oxford.

And where do you come from?

O, originally from London....

O really? Whereabouts?

North East but I lived in Cornwall for three years a couple of years ago.

Really? Whereabouts?

Padstow, but then I went traveling and now I can't really afford to move back down here.

(Then we talked about house prices and demographic shifts, all the time smiling at each other and digging the Good Vibe.)

Her: ...but I don't really mind because I spend so much time traveling.

Me: Yeah? I can understand that. You love traveling do you?

Totally. That's why I'm doing this, because I've actually seen for myself what's going on all over the world.

So you can really tell it like it is...


Have you ever been involved in slightly more drastic action, you know, like a little bit of B and B technique negotiation?

(blank face)

Baseball Bat and Balaclava. You know, like breaking into animal testing labs and videoing monkeys with three arms and no hair with a penchant for toxic lime cordial?

(He He she laughed whilst shaking her head) No, no, Greenpeace is totally non-violent. (smiling) It's the media that make us out to be loonies.

I know. (smiling)

And then it strikes me as I am studying her face, her dark eyes and wonderfully shaped nose and her full lips. She is beautiful. And I know, by the end of this meeting, I will have told her and it will be good.

Me: Well, I gotta be getting on. It was really nice to meet you again.

And you. (puts her hand out)

(taking her hand and warmly shaking it) You are startlingly beautiful. (looking deep into her eyes, not smiling, still holding her hand)

(Momentarily taken back but still smiling) err, thank you.

See you (smiling)

See you (really smiling)

And we went our separate ways. I, personally, was buzzing. She was so lovely, so dark, and so susceptible.

Anyhoo, back I perambulated to the video shop, put the thingy into the thing and ran into Jack, the surfing Dentist, who gave me a lift. As we pulled away from the kerb and passed the fork in the road in the centre of town, just by the bookshop, there she was again. I exclaimed such and Jack, in the midst of my excitement pulled over and as she approached (smiling) he wound down the window. She bent down:

Me: Got anyone else yet?

Her: No. I'm off back to the car I think.

A car pulled up behind us, waiting for us to move so they could get past. I ignored them. This was no time for social graces to impatient strangers when there was this honey, whom I knew a little, smiling at me.

Me: What's your name?

Her: Maria. And what's yours?


She reached across Jack to shake hands. Smiling, the pair of us.

Jack: Er, Bruce, there's a queue.

Me: Listen. Maria, are you about tomorrow?

Maria: No (not smiling so much). We're off to Exeter tomorrow.

Me: (looking pained) Damn....

Jack puts the car into gear...

...well, I'll see you around....

Her: ...hopefully.

Me: Yeah, you never know.(Jack pulls away, she stands back) probably soon, maybe in Ecuador..? (smiling inanely)

And that was the last I saw of her. So far.......What a total honey though. Maria. I love that name. Not everyone can carry it off but she certainly did. I wanted to wrap myself up in her, spend hours lying next her running my fingertip over the small scar she had under her chin. I bet she would taste like a warm, mulled caramel with a hint of nutmeg.


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