People Watching

25 Oct 2021

Two years, almost to the day, between visits to the UK. Little matter of Covid in between. What would I see? Changes? This is a bit critical, but two sons, who are not grumblers, say UK is a mess. My journey was tough (first time sans car). Form filling a nightmare as no clear rules about test and trace. Getting on boat coming back traumatic, no help. English driving and traffic biggest change. Rules of the road? What rules, passing on the inside, too fast in towns (Windsor High Street scary, noisy sports cars and motor bikes) I thought there were laws about noise pollution. On one day the M25 was closed for 7 hours – accident had damaged central reservation. 40 ton lorries in local towns.

Friends whom I had regarded as sensible and responsible behaving out of character. The couple who kindly picked me up on my return were blinded by the sun. Their windscreen was filthy, dangerously so. I’ve driven with mud-covered headlights and wondered why I could not see far, but windscreen dirty, never. They got back from UK just before I left. She was frazzled, hated the noise and rushing about (we both live in the ‘backwoods’ here). I regard her as a reasonable, logical being. UK stress brought on eczema, yet she hankers to go back to live. They could only afford a small property, both over eighty, she won’t drive any more in UK, she does not want to live near any of her children – does she want to die in her ‘native’ land?

A couple in UK, known over 50 years, are in a sad state. She broke her back, had breast cancer, and now has Parkinson’s. He is profoundly deaf, often her disease leaves her unable to talk on the phone. Yet (they were both in responsible positions when working) they refuse to have e-mail in case of ‘scams’. They are virtually cut off from human contact.

Phones! I am not attuned to Smart phones. I was in a hotel in Windsor, most guests couples, some elderly. As they sat down to breakfast their phones were set beside them. What IS so important you have to have your phone ready for instant contact? Can they not stand talking to each other? One young waiter, obviously new to the job, was very nervous – kept saying he was sorry – he had failed by telepathy to know I needed more coffee.

I had a marvellous time – my family pulled out all the stops. Great-grandson celebrated my first visit by starting to walk. I went to Wisley, rapture. Grandson number 5, lawyer girl friend, came down from London, took me to lunch in brilliant sun by river at Eton. Not a day without seeing family or friends, often fair physical effort. Went on a train (number one grand-son and wife alongside). Seemed to be a lot of new trains (and too many new cars). Now very ill son seems in a hopeful condition – marrying in January! Can I make UK in the winter? Watch this space.

The Gardener

A Moodscope member.

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