As we stood there, an elderly man walked off the High Street, proceeded through the arch, and continued beyond it and back into the torrential rain. About ten minutes later he came back and repeated the exercise in reverse.
He looked to be in his eighties, with fine white hair that dripped water, a bent back, and a shuffling walk with paces that were only a matter of a few inches long. The combined effect of his crooked form and the fact that he was carrying a bag in one hand while using a walking stick in the other caused his jacket to pull open, and all he had underneath it was an open necked shirt. Both were sodden.
I watched his eyes as he approached the arch and then walked past me. At no time did he exhibit the slightest sign of discomfort or any other emotion, and I was moved to wonder whether it was an example of fortitude, or whether he’d simply stopped caring. Whatever the answer, it was a reminder of why the modern emphasis on longevity is maybe missing a point.