Thursday, 22 May 2008

An Old Decision

Cambridge bus station, on my way to collect a van from Papworth Everard.

I have forty minutes to wait for the bus so I decide to pass the time in the park behind the bus station. This has the odd name of Christs Pieces and presumably has some connection with the nearby Christs College.

(If anyone is reading this and tutting then I'll just point out that, according to my street map, there really is no apostrophe in Christs.)

The park is well maintained with tall old trees studded around on the grass and lining the pathways. It is also busy - the weather is warm and it is lunchtime. Ideally I would like to sit on the grass, but looking around this seems to be a location for younger people - couples and groups of students.

I find an empty bench instead, next to a bin that is on the point of overflowing. In front of the bench the grass has been trodden out of existence and the bare earth contains a constellation of cigarette ends in various stages of being trodden into the ground. There are also various other items of litter, including two buttons which lie only a few inches apart but do not match.

An old guy with a walking stick and a couple of bags of shopping takes the other end of the bench. His breathing is heavy, and strangely musical, as if he is trying to combine a respiratory problem with the desire to hum a tune. He seems happy enough, and it is never a bad thing to be next to someone who is contented with their lot. But at the same time his presence seems to confirm that I have made an old people's decision in sitting here.

I finish my coffee and head back to the bus station, resolving that if I ever find myself here again I won't pass the time in an oasis of litter but will brave the grass instead.

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