The Levantino Pantomime.

The Levantino pantomime.

Withington and in particular Copson street are my favourite places for doing my little bit of shopping, and Levantino restaurant is my favourite place to have a lovely latte to start off with.

Then I work my way up the street in and out of the shops and even the charity shops. It’s something I’ve always like do since I was a kid. I see my 84 bus coming along but it’s just a bit too far me to catch—my days of running for a bus are long gone.

In any case, when old people run they actually move slower than when they are walking, it’s just like running on the spot.

As usual the 84 moved away just as I arrived at bus stop, my wave for the driver to wait a few seconds was unseen. I changed the wave to a brush of my hair, not wanting to appear rejected by the bus driver—why is it that we English are embarrassed when this happens.

I sit on the hard seat in the bus shelter to get my breath back, they are not made for old men’s skinny bums or for that matter anyone’s bums. The next bus won’t be for an hour, a good excuse for a nice meal in Levantino. I have the Lobster ravioli… delicious!

I eat my meal and take my seat in the bus shelter in good time, I don’t want to miss another one. I am surprised when I see this man sitting in Levantino, I didn’t notice him when I was in there just a few minutes ago.

He is sitting slumped, legs crossed like old men do, he was leaning forward as if he was about to say something. He looks vaguely familiar, I give little nod and a wave, which he returns, but I still can’t place him. After a minute or two of synchronised nodding and waving, I realise I am looking at my own reflection in the big window.

I quickly sit upright, leaning back against the shelter, uncrossing my legs and trying to adopt the way young men cross their legs— by laying their ankle on the other knee— I managed to raise my leg halfway up my shin before the cramp set in.

I jumped to my feet—in a manner of speaking —trying to stamp some life into my now dead leg, as I did so, the Levantino window was faithfully reflecting my every move.

Once again, I composed myself, at the same time trying to look casual, this is very hard to do when one of your legs has gone to sleep.

My leg was now rigid, no matter how I tried it would not respond, whatever I did only ended up like a ‘Monty Python’ sketch, the silly walk one.

Once I had gained control, my attention was directed to my image in the window, I stepped closer to have a look at what I had become.

I stood as upright as I could, I pulled my shoulders back and tucked my chin in—this only produced more chins than anyone should have.

A side view was even more alarming, my head was leaning forward as if I was trying to read a bus time table on the other side of the road.

My legs are bent at the knees, I manage with some pain to pull them back, but my jeans are set in their ways and remain bent.

Then what about my jeans—I read somewhere that men over forty should not wear jeans, I am 91—not only am I wearing jeans, but they are also ‘Levi’ 502’s and slim line too.

I move closer to the window, for a closer look at my face, the sun is making my bald head shine like a beacon, and where have my once arched eyebrows gone, now just two little tufts of grey hair with a couple of whiskers hanging at random over my eyes not unlike a couple of prawns. I force a smile only to reveal my receding gums, and the odd bit of stainless steel from my dentures.

I hear the 84 coming down the road, a little old lady hobbles from the café, she is using a walking stick, I take her arm and help her on to the bus and into her seat.

‘Thank-you very much’ she says.

‘I have just been told I need a new hip, and I popped into that place for a drink, and I have had a lovely few minutes, they are so friendly in there. We were all laughing at your little act, are you on the stage, and did you hear us all clapping when you finished?’

Some days are like that, you just can’t win.

Author: madeinchertsey

Born in 1932, this is a collection of stories of my childhood growing up in Chertsey, and some stories of my later life.

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