Chapter 1

Squished together conspiratorially on the sofa, around us the party continued from the night before. I was a sober New-Years ‘Eve’ for the second time. Yet the unusual event of a night of dancing with friends had been so good as to rate a 9 in my mood diary.

“You have to do that… You HAVE to  do that.” Miranda stared at me intently and emphatically. Her glazed smiles of a few minutes ago were gone.

The silence began to stretch, as I shifted in last night’s dress.

“Ummm…. er…..” I filled space.

Miranda raised a stern eyebrow under an untamed balloon of wavy hair and looked as if she could do this all day. The urge to obey my usually highly affectionate friend took hold.

“…er..OK…..I’ll need a notebook.”

Huddled on giant cushions under the stairs I began to plan. I love planning. I love chocolate, dancing, singing and sex more, but it’s a close 5th. It’s like putting on an old favourite jumper (but one that I wouldn’t wear out to the pub). A few years ago I decided to take a project management course but I couldn’t afford the £2000 fee. So I bought the book for £15 and taught myself. When I passed the exam I felt a certain urge to stick two fingers up to them and say “See? The knowledge is there for the taking and I can do it myself.”

Frowning, I asked Miranda’s opinion about the timing of the walk and she answered, “When we….”

“You’re going to walk with me?” I interrupted.

“Well after making you do it, I can’t very well not can I? For some of the time.” She said smiling hugely.

I let out a massive sigh as I relaxed into the chair. I wouldn’t be alone!

The early plan was to walk for three months, visit schools all over the country and offer free talks about tackling climate change, not as a consumer, but as a citizen. I wrote my aim, background reading to do, a brief of what the project was about, and places I could visit. As with all the best laid plans, the actual tour, was almost, but not entirely unlike the initial idea.

“Let’s get out for a walk.” After stewing in my stale dance-sweat inside all day I needed to see the sun. At quarter to four there was only a few minutes of it left and it was just visible through the row of blue glasses and vases on the windowsill. There was a lot of hazy joyful agreement to a walk, but getting a tipsy group of a dozen out the door was classic cat herding.

We strolled in a spread out smudge of people along the bank of the Thames as the sun went down. The fresh air was delicious after the house air. I found myself walking alongside Paula. I knew her only as a beautiful smiley woman who’d seemed unduly impressed with the exuberance of my alcohol-free dancing (not necessarily the skill).

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