I arrive at Fellbound Towers at the appointed time (it doesn't do to be late for David), resplendent in my red Montane pants and red'n'blue Rohan Spark top. David greets me warmly as we go inside. But, within seconds, he's sobbing, head in hands, over his bowl of gruel (yes, he did offer me some...I declined).
"David, dear. What ails thee?" I enquire.
"It's your wonderful, bright garb," he sobs,"I wish I could wear such colourful attire."
" But you can David. You can..."
"Oh I wish. But I'm afraid people would laugh at me." The tears have completely overwhelmed the gruel now, and it's slopping, quietly, across the table and onto the floor.
I do my best to console him and offer to help select his outfit for our backpacking trip tomorrow. But as I follow him into his huge, walk-in wardrobe I begin to understand his dilemma. I am confronted with an array of greys, the like of which I have not seen since I first encountered the urban landscapes of Yorkshire, as a child in the 1950s. But, in a far corner, I spy a hopeful glimmer...a royal blue merino wool top, by Rohan.
Seizing it, I exclaim, "But pray David. What is this delightful item, in such a wondrous hue?"
He explains that it was bought by mistake, on a whim.
"They didn't have the grey version I really wanted," he mumbles, "so I thought I'd try it."
"I've never worn it. I dare not."
"How long have you had it?. The shirt I mean..."
" Eight years..."
"Then try it...tomorrow. I'll be with you. I'll help you."
"Do you really think I might?"
"We'll get through this...together, my friend."
David beams like a little boy, excited at trying a cup of tea for the first time.
And so it is that we leave Fellbound Towers on the morrow, in David's motor car, hurtling down the lanes towards Buttermere, with David hollering, "poop poop" out of the window at passers by.
With some gentle cajoling, I persuade David to leave the car as long as he's allowed to wear his grey Montane windproof over the blue top, along with his grey Montane Terra pants.
In cheerful mode, I'm wearing my orange Rab Torque pants and, as I buckle up my red rucsac David shoulders his...it's grey. There's a bit of a theme going on here. Oh well...small steps.
We leave on our route and David glances, this way and that, to check if anyone's staring at his blue top.
"No-one can see it David. You have the hood on your windproof zipped right up."
Bimbling along the shores of Crummock Water, gloomy clouds are clearing...I wonder. Has David developed this predilection for greys after staring at the normally grey skies and crags of his beloved Lake District?
...and, having stopped for coffee at the Loweswater Inn, we pass Loweswater itself, bathed in sunshine.
We begin climbing towards Burnbank Fell and David's muttering about being hot.
"Take off your windproof then," I offer.
"But...this blue top..."
I take him by the hand.
"David. I promised I'd help you. There's no-one else about. And if we meet anyone who says anything rude, I'll bop them on the nose."
"You're so kind Geoff. And I am hot."
After checking there's no-one looking, he removes his jacket.
We carry on, with David perspiring, mainly due to anxiety about his bright blueness.
On the saddle between Blake Fell and Gavel Fell we camp. There's a gully, with a stream, not far down the hill.
David sits, looking surprisingly relaxed, in his nice blue top...next to his grey tent. He's become calmer now and performs a little dance, secure in the knowledge that it is only I who can see him. That is, of course, until a thundering horde of fell runners passes and David scurries inside his grey tent looking for all the world like a frightened rabbit. I do my best to soothe his ragged nerves. He's still shaking as he makes his dinner, which is how he manages to throw meatballs, in a vivid red tomato sauce, down his front. The sudden change of his blue top to a blue top with dark purple adornments is more than he can stand and I do all I can to reduce the ensuing tears by producing several baby wipes to clean up the mess.
Eventually calm is restored as I point out how well the blue top sets off his eyes. He smiles broadly.
A beautiful clear night is followed by a sunny, bright morning. Slowly but surely we ascend Gavel Fell, Great Borne then Starling Dodd. This collection of stones and old railings looks like the aftermath of a battle in Lord of the Rings.
At the summit of Red Pike I notice a transformation in my friend. He's standing proud and tall in his blue top, despite there being a number of other walkers around.
"How do you feel David?"
"I feel great. I don't give a feck what anyone thinks. I feel so...so...bright!"
After High Stile and High Crag neither of us enjoys the descent of Gamlin End. It's truly horrid, the combination of gradient and loose scree combining to make progress very slow. But it's soon over and we're down over Seat with Black Sail Youth Hostel in sight. We avail ourselves of the honesty based self-service tea and cake before David insists on posing proudly in his blue top outside. I'm impressed.
Then, a short way up the valley, we camp in the most idyllic of locations and sit, supping brews and chewing the fat.
There's some rain overnight but it's stopped by morning. The shade means it's cool though and, once packed, we set off in windproofs. But, a short way back up to Scarth Gap David wants to stop and bare his blue top to the world again. And, in fact, he wears it openly all the way back to the car. He even eschews donning waterproofs during the briefest of showers alongside Buttermere. Amazing!
We have an enjoyable drive over Honister Pass back to Fellbound Towers and I congratulate David on making a positive move towards brighter clothing. As we enter the house though I note that David is first into the shower and quick to seek out a favourite grey shirt. Oh well.
We have had the most wonderfully convivial of trips. Anyone wishing to avail themselves of my services, don't hesitate to contact me at www.geoffpretendstounderstandpsychology.com
All/some/none of the above may/may not actually be true. But I would never lie about my dear friend David.