Tuesday, 9 April 2019

A Caring Society.


This is Greece, 1974; there is an old man walking from his house down to the beach where he has planted courgettes – they are ready to eat and there are tomatoes too. Someone is asleep in a tent that was not there the night before when he stepped out to look at the stars before going to bed. He places a courgette and a tomato in the pan that sits in the grass outside the tent. Two people inside the tent listen to the footsteps as he walks away; they are a little sacred.

This is the city, 2018. The traffic lights change to red and the cars stop. There is a black Land Cruiser, a small grey Clio and a blue estate – possibly a Peugeot; a young woman sits in the Peugeot -she is possibly French. An old man is walking across the road, he needs to get to the other side and for the moment the pedestrian light is flashing and the cars are waiting; perhaps he needs a tomato from the supermarket for tonight’s toast. 
The man’s feet are not happy walking, his shoes are medical and he leans heavily on a stick; the other pedestrians stride across. By the time he reaches the middle of the road the pedestrian lights, designed by experts in the field of human mobility – or not – have changed; the man is stranded and the cars flow past him no longer stopping.

This is Spain, 1967; a young boy is looking up at a paper notice attached to a lamppost; the paper notice has been written by the boy’s mother - she is English, but she has written the note in Spanish. The boy doesn’t understand Spanish and his mother doesn’t a lot but she used a dictionary that she given to her after attending her home-town’s evening class in Spanish For Holiday Makers; the course had been organised by the local authority, and the local authority thought that anyone attending the course should be given a small pocket dictionary. The note tells the boy that someone has lost a library book on the beach and that if he finds it he should take it to the hotel across the road. He won’t find it of course as he is the little boy who has lost it but this is 1967 and people will care.

They cared in 1974 too.

 formerly published in The Archives.

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