Cruise

Reg’s going on his cruise soon, he said as he got into the car. Reg? Which one is Reg? I asked.

He knows them all. It’s always been his way to ask names and become acquainted by people in shops. Is it a small town thing? I follow his lead, often talking more then he does. Mostly people respond. I don’t like to be pushy. It passes the time of day and I don’t like to think that they think we think they are invisible. Though, some might to like to be, of course.

I put the tree up by accident yesterday, she said, as she beeped my apples through the till. By accident? I asked. Yes, a new one had arrived and I got it out of the box and thought I might as well leave it up now. Then I got some new baubles. She laughs. Christmas always begins for her the day after Armistice Day. She loves it. Her face lights up.

It’s stunning, like gold, like yellow fire. What tree is it? I asked him. Is it beech? No, I think it may be a sycamore, he said. It’s a gap in my education the naming of flora and fauna. His mother knew them all. It’s like sunshine, it lights my soul in this grey, dank dark of autumn nearly winter.

It’s shooting, I said with delight as I walked past the window. The geranium that I’d pruned so harshly is coming back to life. I am so so pleased. I didn’t kill it after all, I said. I didn’t think you had, he said.

So many riches this morning. The programme about Isaac Rosenthal – that ‘bantam’ soldier of the first World War, the Jewish artist, poet and pacifist who signed up so that he could send his mother some money, enduring bullying, racism and terrible physical degradation. So beautiful. So tender. And the continuing reading of poems and letters from Wilfred Owen. And then the encounters as I walked. Students out in the rain in t-shirts. One working at his desk in a window up high looking down on the sand-sprayed Prom. Others laughing, shouting. Yesterday a girl was shouting and laughing, no, no as a boy threatened to throw her into the sea. Did I dream of falling into water? Then later seeing a man shining a torch at the little sign with the house name, the one belonging to the electrician who died in Spain. Should I have said something? I ask him. What could you have done? He shone the torch then walked off. His wife and kids are alone now. I think of her often. Then the lad asking where Queen’s Avenue was. I don’t know, I said. Queen’s Road is just over there. We’ll take a gamble there then, he said, and turning to his companion, said: Come on Bro.

She stopped acting for ten years due to what she called ‘crippling anxiety’.

Is it OK to keep working at something that may not be any good?

You do not have to be good, chants Mary Oliver in my head……you only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.