Saturday, 5 November 2016

Tempus Fugit and the Autumn Fayre.

I spent more money than I usually do at the village Autumn Fayre today, but at least I got a little of it back by winning a bottle of premium beer in a card game. And you know what somebody said to me? (This should come as something of a surprise; if it doesn’t, you haven’t read much of my blog.)

‘I always feel so much better whenever I talk to you.’

I honestly can’t imagine why that should be the case, and it isn’t the sort of compliment to which I’m generally accustomed. In fact, I’m not generally accustomed to any sort of compliment, but I’ll take it if it’s on offer. But then, you might ask, was this person:

Female? I have no reason to think otherwise.

Young? Relative to me, yes.

Attractive? I always thought so.

Married? She wears a wedding ring, but I’ve never seen her in the company of a man. And the point is irrelevant anyway.

But it was interesting to hear it, and as far as I can tell the shock hasn’t done me any lasting harm.

The trip to the Autumn Fayre was also notable for the fact that my ex-landlord spoke to me without being prodded, something I don’t think he’s ever done before. Maybe it’s because he’s eighty five. Maybe he mistook me for somebody who matters.

The problem with village events of this kind, though, is that you become prey to middle aged women who sidle up to you and ask you to buy a ticket for something or other. Some are quite pushy, some take your arm, while others stand there looking sad and hopeful.

One of the latter accosted me and asked whether I would buy a ticket for the money tree. 'What's a money tree?' I enquired. 'Well,' she began enthusiastically, 'we put all the money in a pot, and then the winning ticket gets half of it. The rest goes to church funds.' 'I suppose it's a pound like everything else, is it?' 'Yes.' 'OK.' I gave her the pound and then sat down on one of a row of empty seats, only the ordeal wasn't over. She sat down next to me. Why did she do that and how was I supposed to react? Should I have talked to her? She didn't talk to me. Should I have invited her to tea, or professed my conviction that she was my long-lost soul mate? I glanced furtively at her a few times and she was staring dead ahead like somebody had switched her circuit board off. And then she got up and sold another ticket to somebody else, and I never saw her again.

Ah, but then there was the poignant encounter:

There was a woman operating one of the game stalls. She was the first person I ever spoke to when I moved here 10½ years ago, and I reminded her of the fact that I met her walking her children home from the village school one sunny afternoon and asked her where the nearest post box was. One of those children was with her today, only she isn’t a child any more. She looks to be around eighteen now, is as tall as her mother, awash with easy confidence, and pretty as peaches. She would look perfectly at home on the cover of a movie magazine, and I’m not exaggerating.

Why does time have to walk so determinedly forward with such unfettered haste? Whatever happens to all those meaningful moments he leaves in his wake, blowing around the road of life like so many withered leaves on a November afternoon? Why can’t we arrest his progress and demand: ‘Not another step until I say so.’

No comments: