Wednesday, 17 August 2016

On Differing Days.

Yesterday in the Shire was one of those typical August days when the land looks to be tiring of summer; when the first signs of decay are showing in its myriad withered faces; when the nettles, the thistles and the willow herb are weaving their shrouds of woolly whiteness in preparation for autumn’s demise. On such a day the walk along Church Lane is a mildly melancholy matter, and so it was yesterday.

But then I spied a single stand of meadowsweet, freshly green and with a new show of sweet smelling flowers. It seemed she was late for some reason; July is the month for meadowsweet, and I wondered what I should make of it.

*  *  *

Today in the town was different. Today, no less than four different dogs were anxious to be my friend, and a little girl smiled at me, presumably for no other reason than she thought me worth smiling at, and the special offer beer in Sainsbury’s that should have cost the reduced price of £1.25 went through the till at 50p. I didn’t complain.

And then there was the woman in another of Ashbourne’s stores. She’s a recent acquisition to the staff, and I’ve noticed how polite and respectful she is to people. Today she needed to get past me with a trolley full of merchandise, and did so with politeness, patience, and a level of graciousness that is quite rare. I’m pretty good at judging whether such outward shows are manufactured or genuine, and I have no doubt that she is as genuine as they come.

She was on the till when I went to pay for my discounted copy of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, and I noticed how lovely she was being to a customer’s child. When it was my turn to pay I detected a foreign sound in her voice and asked where she came from. ‘Poland,’ she whispered. So what does it say about so many people that an individual of such apparent quality has to whisper their origins, presumably for fear of attracting abuse? It reminded me of why I’m an internationalist at heart, and why, if there is benefit to her being here in Britain, such benefit accrues more to us than it does to her. I told her it was good to see her, and wished her well.

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