It's the Monday morning after bonfire night. The sun is shining in a cloudless sky of the palest blue. That could mean only one thing. It was bloody cold out there and he wasn't wrong.
He needed to go do some shopping, get stocked up for the week, so it might as well be today. He could wait until he heard from the library regarding a book that he had requested but who knows when or if that would happen?
First things first though. The heating was turned up but it would be a while before he contemplated taking a shower and getting dressed. In the background de-humidifiers whirred away dealing with the condensation brought on by the night's frost and copious amounts coffee were being consumed as he took time to wake up and warm up.
He laid out clean clothes in readiness for when he had sorted himself out and then, as he was in the bathroom, he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror and it wasn't a pretty sight. Oh if the image that looking back at him could have spoken. " You grizzly old bastard. get a shave ffs. And those sideburns totally unkempt and out of control." It's no wonder that he doesn't know anybody. He's a mess. Well of course the growth of a week's stubble would be got rid of but the bushy sides, oh who cares anyway? Certainly not he.Finally, finally, he, and, more importantly, the bathroom started to warm up and he got himself washed and dried. Once dressed he began to feel little more human. All he needed to do now was make sure that he had his shopping list, check the bus timetable and at around 11.30. his feet hit the street.
He wasn't in any hurry. He'd left home plenty early enough, bought a newspaper on his way to the bus stop and by lunch-time he was heading to stugely, via Letts, and Asda's. On a day like today it was so nice to be riding a bus out of town. The sun, although cold, was blinding as he looked out from the upper deck front seat of the bus but the views were awesome. Where there were trees alongside the road tobacco coloured leaf litter carpeted the path and where there were no trees the walkways looked so fresh and new. Such was the affects of this bright Autumnal morning.
Lakes that are merely tidied up , landscaped, played out gravel pits shimmered and sparkled in the midday sun and it was the same with vehicles on the road. Every car van and lorry windscreen dazzled the eye of the observer. It was just nice to be out.
Soon enough he'd alighted his bus and was walking into Asda's. First stop toilet. His bladder was in no mood for dithering. It's funny how once, not so very long ago, for him, "a free pee" was an almost celebratory thing but now, he just accepts what is and, although he has all the time in the world, he storms around the store as though he's in some kind of race or time-trial. Leaving him with a thirty five minute wait for the bus ride home.
As he sat on a low fence munching on a custard filled doughnut, looking down at the huge leaves shed by the maple trees behind him, he saw the strangest thing. Strange to him anyway. A small Spider that had brown legs and an orange body. Another "wish I'd got a camera moment". Probably just an ordinary common Spider that was able to adjust it's colouring to blend in with it's surroundings. When it crawled over the fallen leaves with the oranges reds and browns, one of which it had probably inadvertently parachuted down from the host tree on, it almost became invisible and he savoured the experience of having seen such a thing.
Meanwhile as he'd been doughnut-munching and Spider watching others came to wait for the bus. Two men sat in the shelter and a woman wearing an olive coloured parka and a poppy, probably in her fifties he reckoned, seeming reluctant to go into the shelter, stood just a few feet from where was sitting.
The local Hopper pulled in the two men boarded then the woman went into the shelter to look at the timetable.
"Damn buses." She ranted.
Oh dear he thought. Here we go.
"I've been walking around for nearly an hour. I just missed the last one. That's it, Monday moan over" she said to him smiling then walked over and stood close to where he was sitting and lit up a cigarette.
"Ever since that new retail park opened for business just outside town...."
"Well, I suppose the bus company have go there. Shop-workers and customers, it's quite big deal apparently." He reasoned.
"Yeah, well I won't go there." She was adamant. " I don't like the clothes or how they're made. I'm too fat."
She was no twenty-stoner, okay she wasn't skinny either, a good healthy weight he reckoned for a woman who'd had children( he later gleaned from their exchanges).
"Made for children by children in foreign sweatshops earning barely enough to eat. I won't buy those things".
He hadn't been expecting that. A woman with principles.
" And mobile phones. Kids as young as six..."
He manage to get a word in.
"My pet hate when I'm on a bus. They make my blood boil. They're for ever talking into those things. What do people have to talk about?"
" I won't allow them at the table."
Dinner table he imagined.
"I see young girls on the bus sometimes and the speed at which they type out messages." He gestured with his thumbs.
"And that's another thing. A whole generation are going to be crippled with repetitive strain injuries although it'll probably be called something else by then."
Now there WAS a thought. Imagine.
"Feel better now?" He teased.
They both laughed at that. What a really nice human being he mused.
" My family are always nagging me to use my mobile. My husband phoned me from work the other day to ask our daughter was, I'd been to visit, and I said yes she's okay. Pause..." She pulled face frowning. " Is that it? "
"If my wife phones me I'm thinking ohhhh shit. What's happened ? We text occasionally. Short and to the point. That does."
She nodded agreement. Their bus pulled in and they went their separate ways. He wondered if she could possibly imagine what a difference she'd made to his day.
I'd like to say that it had restored his faith in human-nature but well, she and he both are ageing and so , he suspects, are their values. But while people like her exist there is hope.