Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Later Life

On my most recent post I mentioned the walk I did in Almondbury.

What I didn't mention was the elderly gentleman I came across on entering Molly Carr Wood. With walking stick in hand and wearing a flat cap, green waterproof jacket, green rucksack, walking boots, waistcoat and a tie, he smiled at me and said good morning.

After the small talk about the weather, I asked him about his travels.

'I try and do this walk every Sunday,' he said, looking at me through his thick framed glasses.

Snot was slowly running down to meet his top lip.

'Whereabouts do you go?' I asked.

'I live in Almondbury,' he said, wiping his nose with the back of his hand (I instantly tried to remember not to shake his hand when saying our farewell), 'so from here I walk to Holmfirth.'

I was impressed. That's a bit of a hike for anyone and this guy was easily in his seventies.

'Once I'm in Holmfirth,' he continued, 'I call at the pub for a sandwich and a drink, and play dominoes with the lads.'

I smiled thinking about the bond him and his buddies must have formed over the years. There's something very pleasurable about seeing a group of old men having a good time together; all sat around the table playing dominoes or cards; packet of crisps split open on the table for anyone to help themselves. Some of them have pints, others have halfs. They don't talk about their past nor future, they just enjoy the privilege of being in the stages of later life.

I'm suddenly getting flashbacks of Last of the Summer Wine.

Then he said, 'Well, technically there's no dominoes team any more. They've all popped their clogs, one by one.'

'Oh really?' I said.

(What else could I say?!)

He nodded. 'Two of them were only in their sixties. They retired and then a few months later, they died.'

'Some people live to work,' I said. 'Working becomes their sole purpose in life and when that gets taken away, so does the meaning of their life.'

'Ay, lad,' he said, looking over the landscape of Huddersfield that lay before us.

'We're not here for long,' I said.

He laughed. 'We've got to make the most of what we have,' he said. 'Who knows what's round the corner.'

On that note we thanked one another for our mini conversation and said our goodbyes.

I didn't shake his hand.


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