Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Looking Up

Waiting at a bus stop in Kingswinford, in the Black Country, for a bus to Wolverhampton.

It is just after half past eight in the morning, and since it is the school holidays the streets that would normally be sprinkled with groups of overly energetic children are instead peacefully empty. I've been standing alone at the stop for about ten minutes when I hear brisk footsteps approaching behind me, and then a hand grabs my forearm. The grip is not hard enough to be painful, but moves and squeezes in and out in a way that instead seems to suggest an excess of affection.

The owner of the hand turns out to be a small slim guy, probably in his fifties, who lets go and then momentarily turns to look at me as he passes and says -

'Gonna be nice again today!'

'Looks like it,' I reply to the back of his head as he hurries on his way.

I study his receding figure, looking for anything that might confirm my suspicion of mental illness - an unkempt appearance or discordant clothing. But a gold watch glints on his wrist and he is wearing smart grey trousers and a crisp clean shirt with fewer creases in it than mine.

Perhaps he is just one of life's undauntable optimists, never stopping to think about the advisability of grabbing strangers from behind, or of predicting the weather on a morning when the sky contains as much grey as blue.

I hope he managed to avoid the downpour that ensued in the afternoon.

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