I’m a British citizen

The quarterly tests last week. Time is weird, the months stretch out between visits to the hospital but also kaleidoscope into no time at all. Feeling sorry for myself today, but a visit to the hospital always makes me aware of how much sicker many people are, including very young children. A man next to me gives his date of birth and I’m shocked to realise he’s two years younger than me.

Have a good chat to the technician who does all the needlework, turns out he speaks French – as well as several other languages- and we discuss the importance of transmission of culture to future generations and what it means to have a different language from the community you live in.

Then lunch with a very old friend. We’re treating ourselves to a Middle Eastern feast at honey and co, we catch up and spend much time trying to work out all the delicious ingredients. A tahini sauce has a mysterious swipe of something delicious, the waitress says ‘ ah that’s date molasses’. I sense a new addiction looming.

On the bus home, I’m sitting in one of the disabled seats, feeling much better. At the stop before mine, an elderly gent gets on, very well-dressed, with a stick. He asks me for my seat and I think he probably hasn’t seen my stick so I show it to him and indicate the seat next to me which is free.

At this he goes into a complete rage and begins shouting.’ I want your seat, you’re in my seat, it’s reserved for me.’ Others on the bus tell me to take no notice, that he’s always like this, but I’m startled by such over reaction. The bus has now started moving, so I can’t get up and the seat next to me is free. I try to explain this but the rage continues.

‘That seat is reserved for British citizens. I’m a British citizen.’ ?????

I raise my eyebrows at him, sympathy fast disappearing.

‘And I’m older than you. Give me that seat.’

I stay calm, as I’ve seen carers do to explosions in the dementia home.

‘That’s true, but the seat next to me is free, I’m not getting up, but I am getting off next stop.’

He paws the ground with his stick until my stop and I half expect him to wallop me with it. That would not have ended well.

But I think about him on the way home and wonder who looks after him, if anyone. I’m a local but have never seen him before. And where does such rage come from?


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