Posted by Tania Kindersley.
I am running a lot of errands today, as I am packing to go away for a little while. I ran down to the Co-op to get bread. I like to make sandwiches for the train. The East Coast food is disgusting and hideously overpriced. I take my revenges by arriving like a 1950s holiday-maker, with a tupperware box filled with little foil parcels. My fellow passengers always look rather snooty when I take the parcels out. The snootiness switches to envy when they see the delicious smoked salmon sandwich on wholemeal bread, whilst they are stuck with revolting, soggy ‘panini’ (I used the inverted commas advisedly) at a tenner a shot.
Anyway, the point is, as I went into the shop, an old lady dropped a box of toothpaste on the ground. I picked it up, then saw she had her hands full. She was leaning heavily on a stick, and could not carry her shopping and manage her stick at the same time.
‘Let me take all this to the check-out for you,’ I said.
I took her packets and boxes and we walked to the till. She was rather bent over. Osteoporosis, I thought, most likely. I hoped the young girls were eating their cheese and halibut. Brittle bones are no joke.
The lady gave me a sharp, wry look, filled with intelligence.
‘Thank you,’ she said.
I laughed. ‘I’m always hurling things on the ground,’ I said.
It is true. I rush in, too impatient to get a basket, fill my arms with too much stuff, and start dropping it everywhere. But I also said it because I did not want to sound as if I were patronising her, just because she was a little lame and advanced in years. Cleverness and brightness poured out of her eyes like starlight. I wondered if she had done something brilliant or dangerous in her younger years. I could see her as a scientist or a spook. I imagined it must drive her mad that some people might just see the age and the stick, and do the Come on dear voice.
We smiled at each other.
‘You’ve done your good deed for the day,’ she said.
It was not such a very good deed. It was just basic manners. But I felt pleased she said that, all the same. It was a small, human exchange between two strangers in a little village; it is one of the things that makes me feel lucky to live here. It is one of the things that counts for a lot with me, just now.
I am about to go out into the world, for a moment, for the first time since the funerals of May. It is for a lovely invitation, but I am filled with trepidation. I feel quite pathetic admitting it, but I am heartsick to be leaving my old dog. I did think of taking her with, but she is getting too ancient for long journeys now. The lovely Sister is going to look after her, and she shall be spoilt by the Nieces. But all the same. Oh, oh, oh, my Pigeon, say the voices in my head. It is absurd, but there we are. I cannot pretend to be impervious when I am not.
Blogging might be spotty for the next few days, and there will be no photographs, so forgive me. In the meantime, I leave you with some garden pictures. The weather continues sad and low, so these are from the very few days when there was light:
Apologies for harping on the blue theme, rather, in the last few posts, but I love this blue planting almost more than anything else at the moment.
The great beauty in black and white:
And in colour:
(I think that look is because she just thought she saw a rabbit.)
And the last hill for a while: