To hospital yesterday for some tests; as ever the staff are efficient, kind and friendly, even though working on a Sunday. London is full of veterans for Remembrance Day; the station is full of them, mostly elderly men and women, ramrod straight, chests full of medals. We dance around them admiringly.
Bus back from the hospital is on diversion because of the parades. Every pub near Whitehall has a crowd of veterans outside, enjoying the sunshine and remembering. The bus takes a very circuitous route along the river on a beautiful sunny day. I watch the parties of veterans and am thankful for their service and the sacrifice of their chums who didn’t make it back.
The bus divides into two groups with firmly different ways of looking at the world. There are the moaners, the bus is on diversion, they’re going to be late for whatever important date they had. They sigh, twitch, ring their friends and are rigid with moaning.
The second group watches the veterans, the sunshine playing on the river, the unexpected delight of a tour round a different part of London. Watches the police officers directing traffic with good humour. Listens to the bus driver who at every unaccustomed stop, takes the time to give advice to people up in town for the day who are now rather lost.
I think about Leonard Cohen and his verse, ‘there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.’
We’re taken unexpected routes in life, we have no control over them. But we can decide which group we’re going to belong to.