Foreign or Somethink
    One day, several months later, just as I was beginning to feel able to cope with the grey world again, my friend Clive approached me. He had for some reason or other arranged to go to London for the weekend and had forgotten about a job. Could I take some photographs? Nothing particular booked for another dull weekend, so I said all right. Clive said he had promised to take some photographs for a girl that needed some shots of her work for a portfolio. “O.k.”, said I. “I think she’s sort of foreign, Icelandic or somethink. (Clive spoke that way) Lives down at the Almshouses.” “No problem,” said I. So I went and bought a couple of rolls of film and borrowed a camera (one of those big heavy twin-lens Mamiyas that everyone used to use then) and toddled down to the Almshouses at the appointed time. Knocked on the door. No reply. Rang the bell. A woman came to the door. “Is there a foreign girl living here?” Yes, there was and I was shown in. And that’s when I met my Margrét! The photographic session went successfully. I could hear that Margrét’s English needed a bit of practice but that didn’t seem to matter much. So when I had finished, and the time was getting on for a pre-prandial pint, I thought there was no harm in inviting the lady out for a drink. “Not just now, but maybe this evening,” or words to that effect. “Methuen’s nearest, that be o.k.? Sort of sevenish?” “Yes, all right.” So I went over for my pint at the Oak, not quite knowing what to expect, and then back to the Methuen at seven sharp because I’ve always been a punctual sort of bloke. There was Margrét with her friend Maria Simonds-Gooding, whom she had brought along I think as a sort of chaperone! Apparently it was Maria that told Margrét that she thought I might be a good idea. Can’t imagine what Maria must have been thinking about! Anyway, we got chatting, very formally at first, and another date was arranged, again very formally, for tomorrow. Margrét was a little bit older than most of us, not that that was a problem, and the language thing wasn’t too much of a bother either and we soon got to know each other. There was no head-over-heels whirlwind romance or anything like that, but we soon found that we had a lot of things in common and enjoyed each other’s company. And that friendship wasn’t long in developing to something much more. We have been happily married up here in Iceland since 1970 and no regrets. We now have two grown-up daughters and a grandson and seem to be one of the few Corsham couples that have stayed together for so long. The reason is probably that Margrét is considerably cleverer than me at a lot of things and puts up with my impulsivity in a very patient sort of way! I had often noticed Margrét when I was arriving in the mornings on my bike but without having the faintest idea who she was. She often wore an eyecatching shiny bright red plastic mack, and a hat to match in wet weather. If there was no hat she usually had her hair done up in a sort of doughnut on the top of her head. A bit strange I thought. She pulled the belt of the mack rather tight, ‘to show off her figure’ as I teased her about years later, and had nice-looking legs, not that that was any of my business then. We’ve still got the mack and the hat, both a bit the worse for wear, and haven’t had the heart to chuck them out. They were Margrét’s trademark!
    It turned out that the reason behind my photographic expedition to the Almshouses was that Margét was dissatisfied with the painting course at Corsham and was planning to get into the Art College at Brighton for an independent course in painting and sculpture. Anne Phillips knew James Tower (ex-Corsham staff) who was head of department there and she had put in a good word for Margrét.
    I recently found Clive Adams again and thanked him in a rather cryptical way for introducing me to Margrét through his absence. He had forgotten all about it so I had to jog his memory! I also told him the alternative story that I only heard from Margrét many years after the event. It goes like this and, as we say in Icelandic, I am not selling it dearer than I bought it. ‘Ég sel það ekki dýrara en ég keypti’, in the sense of cheap, and therefore possibly unreliable, information:
    At the time when I was going out with my other girlfriend (and this must have been a long time before we called it off) Margrét saw me one day waiting in the lunch queue at the Court with her. We were fooling around a bit, like we often did. She says she heard like a voice in her ear, quite plainly and probably in Icelandic: ‘That bloke is to be your husband.’ but immediately dismissed it from her mind as rubbish, ‘Whatever can I be thinking about, having such ideas about that silly fellow!’ So perhaps I am just an innocent victim of fate after all, my Margrét’s silly fellow!



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