My Incredible Journey Part Two: The Kindness of Strangers

Arrive in London & wait for the tube.  A lady asks me for advice on her journey.  I give her my suggestion & we board the same service.  We stand chatting for the rest of our shared path.  People say ‘Oh, if you live in London, no-one talks on public transport’.  I say: that’s their loss.  I often chat to strangers.  Yes, some are weird but on the whole it’s one of life’s great pleasures – a mine of treasure.

Newsagents: man in front of me stops to buy a mint ‘Feast’ ice lolly.  I immediately decide I must have one too.  I walk around the corner to the archive, where I stand, leaning on a bike rail, eating my lolly in the sunshine.  For a moment I’m a child again, playing in the front garden after the ice cream van’s been round.  I may not have had a mint ‘Feast’ since that moment.  As Woolf observes, how can I be both here & there?  But I’m not in the garden; it’s twenty years later & I’m happily stood munching a lolly on a street in East London.

Inside the archives: I get on with my work.  I keep dashing down three floors to get a drink.  My on-going kidney problems cause a bit of nightmare in the drink-free world of archives.  A kind librarian says I can leave my water bottle on the main desk in the room where I’m working.  Hurray!  For the rest of the day, I’m in the zone & embraced in the world of my work.  Even Thursday’s aims are achieved by 4.30pm on Wednesday (useful, as it turned out).

I dismiss the pain in my chest as not having had enough lunch.

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