Posted by Tania Kindersley.
I wake to find the peonies have come out. The white tulips are standing to attention like soldiers on parade.
The sky is low with cloud. I think that is probably right. I was glad it was sunny for the last few days. Dirty rain would have been too much. But blinding sun for a funeral would be slightly jarring. Also, I have no sunglasses.
I go to the Pret across the road to get my flat white. This is a very sophisticated hotel, but they can't make a cup of coffee to save their lives. Anyway, I like the early morning streets.
People are waiting patiently for their coffee and sandwiches. Some are sitting at tables, reading a paper. It is quiet and calm. I look around. I think: I bet these humans are good. I expect they sometimes have a common thought or mean, they sometimes pinch some staples from the stationary cupboard, they may say things they should not. But mostly they, like me, like all of us, want to love and be loved, do a good day's work, feel as if their life is worth something. Perhaps they would hope to leave a faint mark behind. I want to leave trees.
I think most people are good. I think humans have more in common than they might think. I have this thought quite a lot. I have it very acutely this morning, and I find it consoling.
The lady gives me my coffee. She smiles. She says: have a lovely day, as if she really means it. I hear a faint irony, whistling past my ears.
I walk back. I have a terrible tendency to smile at people in the streets. (This is most unBritish and can actually frighten some Ordinary Decent Britons.) It is rather more pronounced this morning. A smart gent in Savile Row pinstripes raises his eyebrows. But a nice man in a van stops to let me cross the road and he gets a smile and a wave, and waves back. This small act of kindness makes me quickly tearful.
There are messages on the machine; from as far afield as California, from old friends. Thinking of you, they say. I smile as I see them. Messages too from the dear readers, filled with kindness. The cousin calls, and I find myself laughing. She is at her crest and peak at times like this; every single word out of her mouth is the exact right thing to say. It's as if she took a course.
I write this, because for some reason I want to write this. Today is the day of the box and the earth, but I can still type. I can still smile at strangers in the streets. I can still believe people are mostly good.
It's life and death, I suppose, running in tandem, on a grey morning in May.