I am somewhere in the middle of a long walk from Land's End to Cape Wrath at the northwest tip of Scotland
It was on a long, lonely road in Shropshire that I came to the startling realisation that there are two of us doing this journey.
There's 'the bottom half' - the bit that does all the walking, negotiates fallen trees and climbs over stiles. Then there's 'the top half' - the part that gazes across distant vistas, lost in poetic reverie and philosophic reflection.
Needless to say, it is the top half that is writing this piece. It has been clear for quite some time that philosophic reflection is not one of the bottom half's strong points. The bottom half is not a great communicator. His conversation - if you can call it that - is confined to an endless series of grumbles and complaints such as "how he would never have agreed to come along if he had known what was involved" and "Just name me one thing I'm getting out of this?" and - the one that irritates me the most - "Are we nearly there yet?"
With regard to what he's getting out of it, I remind him that the giant pork pies and chocolate brownies are solely for his benefit and that, left to myself, I would just as soon exist on rough oatcakes and green salads. That's usually enough to shut him up. If there's one thing I'm sure of it's this - there's nothing the bottom half likes so much as a good feed. At times I suspect it's the only thing that keeps him going.
All the same I have to admit he has a point - it can't be very much fun down there; it can be quite wet and the view isn't anything to write home about. Sometimes I find myself admiring the dogged persistence with which the bottom half approaches his task and I like to imagine his efforts are rewarded with some form of brutish gratification . Enduring a few grumbles seems a small price to pay if that's all that's needed to keep him 'at it'. Besides, I've found if I pretend I'm not listening he quietens down after a while.
So, on the whole, we get along quite well and though it would be ridiculous to expect the bottom half to come up with much in the conversation department, I am happy to spend some time introducing him to 'higher things'. I'm probably fooling myself, but like to think that something might be 'going in'.
It was only the other day: I was telling him the story of Robinson Crusoe and I could swear he was listening quite intently.