Wanderers

It is his birthday today. Seventy-two years old. Happy birthday my lovely love. We are going out for lunch. Though the food is not what it is about but sitting drinking tea in the adult’s lounge with the residents sleeping around us. And the view. And the drive. And the getting away.

He was loping ahead of me as I walked. A shuffling figure. He is one of a few of this town’s wanderers, a tramp, a hobo, a vagrant – like the other man who rifles through the dustbins, they are the un-cared for, the overlooked. I crossed the road. I was ashamed but I didn’t want to disturb him. He is lost in his own head. Does he eat? Does he sleep? He wanders night and day it seems. Do they know of him, the authorities? Does anyone take care of him? He looks like Rip van Winkle with a beard down to his crutch. Sometimes his shoes look new. How did it happen? From where and how did he fall? I am sorry. I am sorry for everybody’s misery. Truly.

The red light was shining on the war memorial again. A November gesture, I think. Blood-red, poppy-red.

He woke for a pee just before I went out. The smell of his Old Spice deodorant is always a comfort to me. One of my perfumes is running out and I’ve a hankering for some Patchouli scent. Will it overpower me?

It rained a little as I walked. It never rains on my birthday, he always says.

Keep on the pavement, reads a paper sign sellotaped to a lamppost on the Prom.

My dreams continue murky, multi-layered, tiring, dark. A waiter at the end of the night sitting with us at our table and refusing to get me a coffee. Climbing some stairs in this emporia – designer stairs, black slats – to look at some designs and two elderly, elegant women following behind me talking.

Caught Amanda Palmer talking about crowdfunding and compassion on TED interview and then a series of women discussing OWCH – a community for women where they share a communal space but have their own flats. Sounds nice. Will I ever get my home? A pipe dream. Will I live long enough to find my island? What is it about islands? I listen to Robert Barr’s marvellously dated Dark Island and fantasise. And yet I know how hard it would be. All that darkness inside and out. Coffee now and then fly.