My friend and host had a bike with a mind of its own. It was like a mule with attitude and it didn’t like me. The feeling was mutual though towards the end I grew to respect what I now call the beast.
Together we cycled to distant castles:
And more distant woods.
Occasionally I fell off.
The Beast at rest
But one thing I remember more than the beast is a magical bottle of whisky.
You must bear in mind that alcohol is prohibitively expensive in Sweden. Supermarkets sell nothing above 3.5% and you have to go to a special shop with cash up to your armpits to buy anything stronger.
Imagine our surprise then when a couple sitting on a nearby table left a near-full bottle of whisky. We waited, toying with our waffles, wondering whether they were coming back. An hour later it was clear that they weren’t.
Now it bothers me in 'soaps' when characters, for no reason at all, just up and go leaving an unfinished pint. This is just not done in real life. If my house was burning down I’d find time to gulp what was left before running to put out the flames.
But a bottle of whisky.
The cost of a small mortgage just left for wasps with a thirst. It didn’t bear thinking about.
But that is what we did.
Had it been poisoned?
Was this a police sting?
Did Sweden do Candid Camera?
Was it spiked - Rohypnol – perhaps - Valkyries waiting, ready to pounce?
Was it in fact not whisky but tea – or worse - piss?
That thought for some reason bothered me. The veranda was empty. It was time to find out. The product of a hundred million years of evolution pitted against a ten year old malt. There could be only one winner. I walked over and sniffed.
It was whisky.
When I was younger I’d have taken it. No problem.
Now I just left it without knowing why, but puzzled and just a little uneasy.
Had I become Mr Sensible? A terrible thought.And was the whisky still there, waiting to play mind-games with somebody else?