Mealtimes – focal points in our day – have been transformed by the arrival of two people at my table. Theit predecessors were perfectly amiable, but we had little in common. A week or so ago Frédéric (guitarist in wheelchair, who must be the most sociable person here – he makes a point of saying hello to everyone) said he had just met a Scottish woman , and introduced me to her.
Anne Guthrie was in fact born and brought up in Kenya, but went to school at St Leonard’s (near St Andrews) and to Edinburgh University. She is now married to a Frenchman, lives in the Pyrennees and runs her own business, Safari Sud, bespoke organized cultural and activity holidays for a predominantly American clientele. She is younger than me and different but i liked her immediately. We come across each other in the course of the day but I have not sought her out, in case she wanted to engage with the younger inmates. Then yesterday she came and asked if she could move to my table, partly to escape from one of her current companions – the woman who sat next to me on Christmas Day. I was delighted and look forward to meals now, though it looks as if Anne, who has had a knee op, will be let out in a week.
My other table companion, Pierre, is s a retired physicist, my age or maybe a little older. We have already had some good conversations, with Anne before she left for the weekend, and then one today. My experience in the world of university computing is one area we have in common. And then today we talked about the ways in which the sixties was a watershed decade.