Drizzly rain today, maybe it will clear later, I wish it was later.
You remember Charles, he moved into number 9, well I bumped into him in the common room yesterday. I was looking for Ken, at the time, I had a book I thought he might like to read.
“Hi Charles, how is it going?” I asked.
Don’t know why, because I really do find it difficult to understand any reply he might give. I do have an appointment at the hearing centre in Dundee on the 3rd of November, November, where did the year go? I really do need to get this hearing problem of mine sorted out, it has made me an outcast, and communication is so vital at our age, but I diverse.
“I’m off to the café for a coffee, would you like to keep me company?” I asked Charles.”
“I don’t have any money” he replied.
“That is not what I asked”
The little café in South Street was full to overflowing, well at least the seating outside on the pavement. Wind blowing their customers huddled, dressed for winter, now seated on cold aluminium chairs, alongside aluminium tables, cupping their coffee cups. Pavement café life certainly works better in the south of France, still, looking on the bright side, it did leave plenty of room for us indoors.
The fruit scones had all been eaten, drat and double drat, so we had plain scones, with butter and strawberry jam along with our coffee. The conversation was difficult, but sitting only feet apart helped and his story unfolded.
Indeed, his wife was the young woman I had seen in the clip from his smartphone, and yes, she was a native of Thailand, thirty years his junior, as it turned out, he is 63. He was a schoolteacher out there, English and maths, and returned home when the illness took hold. He did give it a name, but I was still unable to catch it, maybe I will get him to write it down for me. Seems it attacks the nervous system and affects speech and balance mostly, a death blow for a teacher. I did ask if he would have stayed in Thailand had things been different. I did not have to wait for his answer; he could hardly hold back the tears.
It was then he brought out his smartphone, scrolled and stopped, scrolled and stopped until he found a picture he was looking for. He held it up for me to see. The picture was of his wife, alongside her stood a young girl, looking a little shy of puberty, but being slim and petite it was difficult to tell from a photograph.
“My daughter,” he said simply.
“When this virus is under control, maybe next spring, you could invite them over for a holiday; you know we have a guest suite here at City Park, for just such occasions?” – I then added, “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things.” The words were out of my mouth before I had the opportunity to retract them. Spouting platitudes at such times are of little help and possibly I was insulting the man’s intelligence, by doing so. It’s at times such as these I feel so blessed in my own life.
For some inexplicable reason I thought of the little French Calimero, Calimero was a newly hatched chicken that had entered into this unfair world. He would go around believing that the sky was falling on his head.
“Goodbye, cruel world” he would say, as he wandered through life.
Yes, life can deliver us such blows; we may even be dropped to the canvas, and out for the count, by them. William was suffering such a blow at this time, but I know he will recover, for a time he will crack a lousy joke. Like when I said,
“Until such times as you get fixed up with a television of your own, if there is anything you particularly wish to see, just let me know” he replied,
“Your television is too small” (it has a 54-inch screen). Yes, William may be down, but William is not out.