Random People Re-visited…Well Almost

Today I needed to go into town for a few things and because it was a sunny day, my kids, understandably, didn’t like the idea.  So, they went off on a bike ride with the neighbours and left me alone to do my errands.

Our town centre has absolutely no qualities that are worth mentioning here.  In fact, it’s pretty abysmal.  The town council, in an effort to appear all Americanised and trendy, has cringingly called it The Mall of which the local’s derisively snigger at and refuse to use. 

But…grim as it is, the thought of having a few solitary and very rare hours to wander around the shops on my own made it (almost) worthwhile.  Any parent will know what a challenge it is trying to keep bored and moaning kids under acceptable levels of control when they’re being dragged through tiresome shops or under threat of unspoken consequences if they interrupt while mum stops and chats to every friend she bumps into.  Words like…”Oh no, is there anyone you don’t know?” come to mind.

Anyway, off I went, let loose in “The Mall” armed with two reusable bags and a few spare pennies to waste on frivolous indulgencies.  But, after completing the neccessities, I found that I wasn’t in the mood to ‘do the shops’ so I decided to do this again.  

However, my very distracted and distant brain failed to remind me that today is Saturday and on Saturdays the town is always full of kids hanging out on every bench and in every shop doorway until the security gestapo clock them and move them on.

My much vacant mind also refused to inform me that, rare as it is, I wasn’t actually in the mood to observe the random activities of random people, let alone politely socialise with them.  It even forgot to mention until it was too late that I wasn’t in the mood for ice-cream.

So, upon purchasing the ice-cream, I looked around for an empty seat.  But of course, as I said, this is Saturday and every bench within the radius of my sight was occupied. 

So!  Great!  I’m holding this unloved ice-cream that is quickly dripping all the way down my sleeve to my elbow and feeling acutely self-conscious.  And I can’t find a dark little corner to hide myself in.

Sigh.  Just as I reached a bin to despondently drop my ice-cream into, a couple of hoodies vacated a bench close by.   A man and a woman were hovering.  Wrongly predicting that they were about to move in on MY SEAT,  I lost all dignity, ran over to it and dumped down.

So, now I’m in a crappy shopping Mall that I don’t want to be in, perching indignantly on a bench that I don’t wish to be perched on, eating an ice-cream that I really don’t want to eat and waiting for random people that I have no desire to chit-chat with to come and sit beside me.   And all because of a nostalgic desire to re-live a lovely but altogether bygone afternoon.

I spread my bags out next to me hoping it would put people off but it seems I am a random-people magnet and after five minutes of pretending not to notice the random person hovering in my peripheral vision, I had no choice but to move over and let him sit down.  I felt a stab of guilt when I took notice because he was quite old.

He smelled unkempt.  And of tobacco.  It didn’t matter.  I wasn’t in the mood so I kept my eyes down but it didn’t deter him….

That looks good love.”

(smiled politely)

“It isn’t really.”

laugh…so why did you buy it then?”

“Not sure.  On a whim I suppose.  Do you want it?”

Eeh, I wish I could love.  I’m diabetic.”

(sympathetic tutting noise)

“Insulin, diet or tablet controlled?”

Insulin.  Had a bad do t’other week and ended up in th’ospital.

(do NOT tell him you work there!!)

“Oh, sorry to hear that.  I’m glad they managed to stabilise you.”

(feeling a bit bad now and warming to him)

They keep telling me to stop drinking and smoking but what’s the point?  It’s all I’ve got.

(heard this so many times in my line of work.  Want to tell him to “sod it” and carry on but the nurse within won’t let me.)

“Yes, that’s understandable. “

Lost me wife two years ago and went to pieces.  Never seemed to pick up after that.”

(suitably contrite now)

“Oh that’s sad.  How long were you married?”

Thirty-eight glorious years.

“Gosh.  that’s a long time.  Bet you miss her terribly.”

Sigh…aye I does that love.

(gulp sniff)

Nerry a day goes by bout me shedding a tear.  No-one else in’t world like her.  Couldn’t have children but we never stopped trying (twinkle in the eye here). Broke ‘er ‘eart for a long time but we dedicated oursen to each other.  We looked after’t nephews and nieces an aye, there were lot’s of ’em.  Can’t do it ne more.  Too ewd.  Many a time I thinks it best if I just lies down and curls me toes up.  Don’t want to be a burden to no-one at my age.

(mortified for ever having felt so anti-social towards random people)

Well, best be off lass.  Me cat’ll want feeding.   It’s not my cat you understand.  It wer ‘er cat and aye, she did love ‘im.  I don’t have th’eart to part wee ‘im now.  Look after thisell  love and you might find yersen a nice young man one day.


Like I said, People are Poetry.  Let’s always make time for random people… in all their human wretchedness.  And ours.


6 responses to this post.

  1. Aaaahhh…. Bless ‘im!


  2. I know. I loved that old man.


  3. Thanks for sharing this lovely account.


  4. I have no time to read this now, 7:30 am (gmt+1) because power will be cut in a few moments until past noon.

    I’ll have to wait until this afternoon/evening.


  5. You’re welcome Bindi. I enjoyed writing it almost as much as the first one. (It probably helps to understand this post better if you read the linked article).

    No problem Jose.

    Have a lovely Sunday all.


  6. Shows there are still people with tender hearts around us. Good to know that, it’s really edifying.


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