I start the day as I always do, in the Community Café at Minehead Court. A full English breakfast (without any bacon), just two veggy sausages, scrambled egg, grilled tomatoes, and fried mushrooms, plus a cup of tea. All for about fiver and served to my table by a smiling young lady.
It seemed such a good start to my shopping, the 44-bus arrived on time with the smiling Mustapha at the wheel, he always has a kind word, as do all the Selwyn bus drivers, they must be chosen for their kind attitude to us oldies. He drops me off at the Co-op in Central Withington.
I do my shopping quickly and head for Costa Coffee for a pot of tea, once again served to my table by a smiling young lady—Withington is such a friendly place, I love it.
It’s a sunny October day, so I drink my tea outside so that I can see the 44-bus when it’s coming down the main road. Inside the Coffee shop I see a man who is vaguely familiar, he is looking at me and probably thinking the same. I nod and give a little wave; he does the same.
My memory is not what it used to be, and try as I may, I can’t think who he is, I catch his eye again and give another smile.
After a few minutes of synchronised smiling and nodding, I realise I am looking at my own reflection in the window. I quickly look around to see if anyone has seen my silly mistake. I try to look casual and cross my legs like young men do, as my foot is half way up my shin the cramp sets in. I jump to my feet—in a manner of speaking and try to stamp some life into my dead leg, then I try that thing that footballers do when they have the cramp.
I take long strides lifting my legs high and wide, at last I gain control.
I see my reflection in the window again and step forward for a closer look. It’s not a thing I should have done. The sun is shining on my bald head like a beacon, my once nicely arched eyebrows are now just a few very long hairs hanging over my eyes, looking not unlike a couple of prawns.
My mouth is turned down, unsmiling, I force a smile only to show my receding gums and the glint of my stainless-steel dentures, I step back to have a good look at what I have become.
My legs are bent at the knees, I straighten them, but my jeans remain bent, and what about my jeans, I read somewhere that men over the age of forty should never wear jeans. I am nearly ninety, and my jeans are Levi 501’s, and slim line too—big mistake.
I see the 44-bus coming down the road, no need to run though, in any case when old people run, they don’t actually go any faster, they just move their legs up and down more quickly, it’s a bit like running on the spot.
As I pass the door of the Coffee shop, I see an old lady coming out, she has a stick and I help on to the bus and into her seat.
“Thank you very much” she says. “I just popped in there for a cup of tea, it is such a friendly place, we were all enjoying your clever act, did you hear us all laughing, are you on the stage, and did you hear us all clapping when you finished?
It could have been such a nice day; life can be so cruel.