A tidy hand-written letter dropped through the door last week. The last time post arrived that was not a bill or sales gambit proved to be an invitation to court; the final act in a year long wrangle in which my opponent, who wanted a pound of my flesh, finally extracted a large sum from an insurance company for relatively trivial damage to his car.
This time the envelope contained ten cards that used to be in my wallet: Coffee loyalty, Metro, library, but not credit or debit. Harry, a member of Morrison's staff, had written to me. One of those men and women who take our money in exchange for petrol or diesel, he had taken the initiative to search and find my name and address from the cards. Thus he returned my property and apologised for any privacy breach.
Within two days I went in search of this good samaritan. A busy petrol station and a queue. My query was very quick so I took the liberty of going up to the glass partition. A youngish lad was serving.
"Do you know Harry?"
"When is he next on duty?"
Eye contact - "Why do you want to know?"
This took me by surprise and I wasn't about to disclose details.
The queue was getting restless, or I thought it was.
"It's nothing to do with work?"
"No, it's a personal matter. Do you know when Harry is next on?"
"Tomorrow night." I left, relieved that the queue had not been grumpy. We are all in a rush.
The childbride said I should have told him that a kindness needed recognition. Add it to the list of things I've done wrong this week.
I went to see Harry the following day. Very young man. No queue. I offered my hand through the partition.
"I'm Dave Walker and you sent my cards back."
"Yes they were on the floor." He began to apologise.
"Top man, thank you. I can at least give you the stamp money."
"No, it's not needed."
A customer came through the automatic sliding door.
"Thanks again. Hope to see you." We smiled.
The childbride was impressed. I needed the Metro card in Scarborough the following weekend.
My wood for the stove over the winter has arrived. I chucked half of it over the garden wall and arranged it into rows in my two wood stores. The balance is in my garage and needs manual lifting in a trugg. With my age-related unsteadiness this can be a challenge as whatever route I take involves a flight of steps. I missed the one in the back yard and let out a short cry of surprise. Over the adjoining fence, the next door neighbour was going down her steps and turned to look before carrying on.
Yes I was safe, no harm done. "I can stumble easily." I explained.
"Are you talking to me?" she said, in a manner that reminded me what an idiot I was.
I explained again. At the bottom of the steps I laughed. There was no one within 100 yards.
Craig is our Scarborough window-cleaner. He has one or two pretty unique hobbies. He plays a keyboard which he keeps in the back of his van (https://youtu.be/0gxnDcK2cuU). An avid binocular and telescope user, he claims to be able to see Castle Hill from his back bedroom. So a bit of a snooper. And a joker.
We phone him from home and then again from the flat - he was there in five minutes, decked out in a black-and-white checked T-shirt and kufi (a kind of fez-chef's cap). The windows are on the first floor and demand heavy long ladders and a strong arm and constitution. The childbride wanted his home number as well as his mobile, clearly displayed on his van but invisible to her. Back on terra firma, Craig whips out a megaphone from the van and tells the whole of Albion Square his number. A passer-by asked us if we knew this madman.
I paid him. The childbride was still at the open first floor window when he shouted up to her, "People might think a like cheques, but I actually prefer cash."
Passer-by shakes his head, waiting for Craig next to the van. Next seen in deep conversation.
I took a rest from the recent action-packed Scarborough weekend at the circular white-painted coffee-shop next to the disused beach-side chairlift terminal which used to run to the defunct Captain Marvel's funfair (http://bit.do/ew7zC) and the roundabout opposite Peasholm Park. The funfair is now the carpark for the open-air theatre,
A cappuccino which was drinkable. Shiny aluminium tables and chairs. Young lad serving on and an older gent with a chef's white smock, without the hat. Out on the north bay horizon a large ship was turning back and forth with no intent or so it seemed. I asked the guys. They didn't know what it was, but suspected some sort of trawler: cranes and suchlike. "They've dropped someone into a small boat. Must have taken him round to the harbour."
I drank my coffee and fell asleep, woken by the sound of stacking tables and chairs. They were closing up around me.
"Hi Dave, how are you? How's business? Weather's keeping nice for you." The older gent in the smock replied "I'm well, could be better, yes." Two or three more, walking up the paved promenade, made the same enquiries and Dave answered politely.
He thanked me for vacating my seat. The mystery ship was now a blot. "It's a factory trawler," said Dave. Wow I thought, what good eyes, turning toward the coffee-shop counter where the young man was just putting down a pair of binoculars.
84 to Andy and me, 80, on the pitch and put. No one else playing. It helps to pass the time. Over a hundred ten-pin bowling. My knee doesn't allow a run up anymore.
Whilst I was looking for a suitable ball on next door's lane, a boy's head made contact with my outstretched hand. He was running about as kids do. He said ouch and ran to a 16 year old girl. "What happened?" she asked him. I intervened and explained. "Keep away from him," she instructed the boy. They were part of a large happy chaotic group chucking bowling balls everywhere. Pity their minder perhaps chose not to understand what had happened. Their lane closed soon after.
What could I possibly have been guilty of, but I was.
I recently did a hospital visit. Parking was an adventure. Side ward of four beds, three full. Pete and this latest knee replacement. Recovered from the anaesthetic if not the surgery. Knee not quite at ninety degrees, not doing stairs but getting to the loo on a zimmer. Someone had discovered abnormal blood results - something to do with his kidneys, so he was tied to a drip stand which didn't travel well. We caught up on the ward scandal and the rugby results. His previous surgeon was a short very round Indian who could be a bit precious. This one was different and didn't take other surgeons prisoner, so more reasons for precious.
The drip beeped. Pete pressed a button on a remote plugged into the bedhead. Light blue nurse appeared. The drip needed a mains recharge and the electric lead not long enough. Musical beds and drip stands. Pete confided in me that the staff nurse never smiled.
Time to go after an hour's parking. Staff nurse arrived and I said something cheeky and oblique, "I can smile," she said and nearly laughed, "It's just that you are all so miserable in here." Pete went red and I beat it.
Some days you just get through to people, other days you don't. At my age anyone is welcome to see me for who I am, as long as they can cope with the occasional bright remark.
It's a thing of great happiness to have those brief connections and the glimpses of each other that result.