MR and I got ahead of the others on a Sunday walk across the Pentland Hills with colleagues. Enthusing over Great British walks, MR declared how he would love to follow the Roman Wall trail from the south of England all the way up to Northumberland. “It’s a great trip for foreign tourists”, he said. “They pick up a hire car in Heathrow then drive up the country stopping off at each of the sites along the way.” I nodded in agreement, although privately I couldn’t see much point in staring at piles of stones just because they’d been placed there by Hadrian’s men. There was also something dodgy about the assumption that the Roman Wall stretched northwards from the perimeter of the M25. This was something that I really needed to check with RG-J.
Our walking route unexpectedly took a sudden turn into a housing estate, and then a small theme park where the visitors themselves were the main entertainment. MR looked seriously tempted by the human four-legged racing. I managed to persuade him not to sign up as a horse. It would just be too humiliating when nobody bet on his chances. Instead I suggested that we go into one of the buildings to see which shows were on offer there.
This was a terrible decision. We stumbled along a succession of corridors, each next one narrower than the last. They were all crammed with old-fashioned filing cabinets and piles and piles of stationery. Fire doors slammed shut after every three or four paces and it was as if we were slowly being sealed in a multi-chambered concrete coffin. A label on one of the doors hinted that we had perhaps stumbled into some old BBC offices: Libby Purves apparently shared one of the tiny rooms with Elvis Costello. I wondered if they were dead or alive behind the door.
Just at the point that I thought we’d be trapped in this building forever MR passed me a padded envelope. Inside was a very beautiful and elaborate blue-stoned necklace. “What’s this?” I asked. “It’s your birthday present from KT. She wanted me to organise a treasure hunt for you. I hope you enjoyed it. Now that you have been awarded your prize, shall we retrace our steps and get out of here?” He knew that his last question was redundant as I joyfully followed him back outside into the open air.