A sunny August Bank Holiday afternoon, and everyone is drinking; the smell of lager hangs over the Pantiles. Drinkers, pints in hand, stand around or sit on the wall or the steps. Children run and tumble at their feet. A group is pumping out rock from the stage at one end. The place has become a big, open air pub. People, usually taciturn or sullen, gradually taken over by alcohol are granted the gift of speech and wisdom. The sun blesses the flow of talk. A few years, perhaps 20 years ago, such a relaxed and merry scene would have not been thought possible in Tunbridge Wells.
In the garden for a moment I bend down to dead-head a marguerite and realise that, sitting on the spent flower that I am about to remove, is a very small brown butterfly with gold spots on its wings.
We bump into a couple of people I have known for years. Both, when I knew them before were married to different people. You would not have thought of them as a couple, or even as likely to have known one another. But, they seem be united now, very happily it seems, by a curious mechanism that, these days, seems to shuffle people like playing cards.