Philip Toynbee’s Part of a Journey has an entry in August 1978
For this is my vision of total pleasure – to be sitting in a comfortable bar, reading The Observer with a pint of Guinness on the table and the lunch menu just about to be brought for our leisurely perusal. The height of worldly enjoyment.
The words were deeply resonant. Working until 10 pm last Thursday to have a couple of hours on Friday to meet a friend for coffee, he and I sat in a little Wicklow village on the forecourt of the coffee shop in the pale spring sunshine. It was a moment of complete tranquility.
I noticed that there was crack in the right sole of my six year old Doctor Marten shoes, I noticed that the left cuff of my black sweater was beginning to fray, and that I might need some more staples to fix the strap of my €9.99 wristwatch. None of which impaired my enjoyment in the slightest. they only registered because my friend had arrived in green tweed jacket and corduroys. He maintained that Herself had told him he had to look tidy to meet the “vicar”.
We laughed about “old money” that goes around in threadbare jackets and battered old cars. The village is a place where people will spend phenomenal amounts on houses and cars and clothes and golf club memberships and “must haves”, in an effort to convince themselves they are happy, and that they are “somebody”, when happiness demands no more than having two hours to sit in February sunlight and put the world to right.