Wonderful world

The days were becoming shorter. Summer had been kind to us. Travelling from loch to loch, broch to broch, Stewart and I spent sunrise to sunset soaking in the Scottish sun, savouring the sharp contours of the landscape, the briskness, the too real beauty surrounding us.

Stevie Wonder, Ella Fitzgerald, Brenda Lee sang through our stereo, as we drove along the long, lonesome roads. It was just the two of us, the vast sublime vistas, and the sweet sonorous Fifties and Sixties. Stewart would repeatedly ask for The Bobbettes and I would put on Mr Lee. His fat chubby face would crinkle with joy and sing along with such glee. How I would flutter.

On our walks I told childhood tales of walking across the moor and finding the perfect song to match the hike, to match my emotions. Stewart would then recall old comedy routines about Braveheart, about shortbread, offal and heroin. Occasionally his brow would furrow with a quizzical look.

There was a joke he was working on, about the Loch Ness monster. About conspiracy theories and mistrust of experts. About how despite not having the requisite knowledge in the relevant subjects, people jumped to such strongly-held beliefs. But he couldn’t work out the structure, the form. A joke is delicate, like a song, he explained once. The tiniest bit of inspiration might be all that it takes. A breeze then blew the lines from his face and he smiled at me again, and resumed telling me about the local history, the myths and the Auld Alliance between the Scots and the French.

… the French I took

But I do know that I love you
And I know that if you loved me, too
What a wonderful world this would be

Sam Cooke’s lyrics washed over me as I watched Stewart delight in recalling treaty details. I’ll show the song to him, I decided. That’s how I’ll let him know. How I feel. What a wonderful world this would be.

Our final stop was Loch Ness. Summer had been kind to us. We sat by the shore, a few puffy clouds in an ever bluer sky our only companions. I prepared, and looked Stewart in the eye. My heart whined.

‘Stew? I would like to play a song for you.’ I held out an earpiece. His hand brushed against mine as he placed his earpiece into his ear, and I placed mine into mine.

Don't know much about history
Don't know much biology
Don't know much about a science book
Don't know much about the French I took

But I do know that…

‘Yes, YES!’ he leaped.

‘I’ve got the joke!’