People seem to be quite kind to me these days. It may be an illusion or just a hopeful thought, but people in the street seem to smile at me more than they used to. Perhaps it’s not kindness at all, but just amusement at the sight of an elderly man stumbling through town that can’t be hidden. I usually look at people as I move around, though these days I need to keep an eye on the pavements in our city which are notoriously uneven. And I suppose often I am smiling at them; there is so much anonymity about public life and it’s a sort of harmless friendliness that I suppose has always been typical of me. But more than they used to, people smile back. Of course it might be that I look unusually distinguished and people nod at me in deference. Its unlikely.
And then there’s the offering of a seat on the bus which I’ve mentioned before. The first time it happened I was shocked. It never occurred to me that I looked in need of help; even less that I looked old enough for people to be so kindly.
We have some appalling local buses and if you have to stand they are dangerous for anyone to travel on, but that I should be picked out as in special need still surprises me. But when it occasionally happens it’s something which I now feel I should accept graciously. It happened again yesterday on a hopelessly over-crowded train (don’t the train operators expect people to use their facilities?). I had to stand near to the door where a delightful woman was already standing. Beside me there was a tip-up seat and I offered it to her. She declined and insisted I took it which I did.
We have excellent neighbours, rather younger than we are and very active. B. is always doing things, cleaning the car, seeing to the garden, planting the next flower boarders, cleaning the windows. A perfectionist by nature he is beginning to cast a kindly eye in my direction and seeing that there are some things I perhaps don’t manage about the house as I should, offers to help.
I have had several visits to the dentist recently. ‘Come this way ‘she says using my first name and asking how I am. Attending for one reason this week, I mention other slight problems. She is full of advice and seems genuinely concerned about these inconveniences of increasing age – the deterioration of one’s teeth. She gives me a tube of ointment which will help and ignores my references to what I regard as the loss of dental health due to age. ‘And if you have any more trouble book a five minute appointment and I will see to it’.