We own two static caravans which we rent out at Durdle Door, situated on the Jurassic Coast. This means that during “the season”, I travel 22 miles there and then back again a couple of times a week to clean and prepare for another family’s arrival.
It’s a nice drive. I’ve done it in deep snow, marvelling at wind-sculptured snow drifts and desolate open-sided barns huddled against the hill. Done it as spring slowly but surely creeps its way out of the muddy ground, spreading its soft green fingers across the earth. Done it in the summer, one of many cars crawling slowly along and then again in October, when the woods blaze in autumnal fiery colours.
Today, I was making the trip along with many others who were coming or going. I was on the “going” side of the road. It’s tricky, it’s narrow and because we are in “This ‘ere countryside”, not much in the way of things pedestrians like to have, such as pavements, exist.
We had all stopped at the junction out onto the busy road, just by the railway crossing- thoughtful of South Western Rail. When you are likely to be in a jam, stick a train crossing in the middle of it so you can at least count the carriages as they go by. Must remember to pack a red petticoat in the car so I can wave it out the window at the driver next time.
So there we were. Hanging on to the railway gate for dear life was a very elderly man, nattily dressed in shirt, tie, jumper and suit. Today was maybe 24 degrees centigrade. Tiny and stooped, he swayed around, tentatively placing one foot out onto the road, which he would have to walk on, then pulling it back.
I became anxious and watched him, as he watched the constant traffic, waiting for a gap where one driver at least, had spotted him and had the decency to stop and let the old guy make his way down the road. No one did.
Out he tottered, his stick briefly getting caught in the brambles. I watched, holding my breath. He was coming, one foot then the other. A car came by, slowed and swerved around him. He stopped, confused.
It was my turn to move. Ignoring the other cars behind me, I rolled down the window and called out “Sir! Sir! Are you ok?” He slowly turned his head. Please don’t fall over, I prayed. “Are you ok? Do you need help?”
He smiled at me, a great big gappy grin and waved his stick. “No, m’dear. I’m alright. Just goin’ round corner. God bless ya!” He blew me a kiss.
I hope he got to where he was going and I hope too, that when someone sees a mad ol’ dear tottering along in the road one day, they too stop to ask me if I am ok. I hope I will be.