Sunday, 12 July 2009

Not So Old Men

It's nearly nine in the morning and I'm driving through Gorton, a not particularly affluent part of Manchester, heading for the car auctions in Belle Vue.

It's been raining torrentially most of the way up from Birmingham, as if to disillusion anyone who had started to think we might be in for anything other than a British summer this year.

The rain has slowed to a shower now, but the sky remains full of rolling clouds of the darkest grey.

I'm stopped at a set of lights when a skinny old white guy, in his sixties at least, comes trotting past on the pavement. He wears a dark woollen hat, white trainers, and a thin green rain mack which reaches almost down to his knees and below which the bottoms of grey shorts are just visible.

My first thought is that he is running for something - maybe a bus, or to catch someone up. But he has a steady pace and isn't looking at anything in particular so I guess he is just jogging. He has a determined expression on his face - even at his age he still has some purpose in mind for which he wants to keep himself fit.

Half a mile further along I pass another old guy, waiting on the other side of the road for the lights to change at a pedestrian crossing. He rests his weight on one leg almost as if he is about to start tapping his foot on the ground, and has his head tilted slightly to one side with a look of exagerrated impatience on his face - the kind one would normally expect to find on a teenager's face if someone his age had impeded their progress for any reason.

Maybe places like Gorton stop people drifting into either contentment or resignation as they get older - there are too many everyday challenges to be faced down. Or maybe it's just the rain.

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