a local history

The other day I was walking down the High Street to the post office where the queue is always like Christmas – it’s got worse since privatisation I said to the woman who served me, she said no, we haven’t been privatised, the Royal Mail was privatised, not the Post Office – and I met an old man walking very slowly, with just one stick, reaching out with his other arm to hold onto a railing or a wall as he made his way inch by inch, and as I came back from the post office I overtook him, and maybe because I have come to realise recently that even proud, independent people sometimes welcome help, I asked him if he would take my arm, and even pressed him further, politely, when he initially declined. As we walked together he took each step as a separate activity, considered thoughtfully, as if he were inching his way along a tight rope, and I saw that he was able to use the agility of his brain to compensate for the weakness of his body, so that although he was fragile and brittle he would not fall, and he held to his beliefs, too, telling me that he remembered his father taking part in the battle of Cable Street in 1936 when anti-fascists fought the police to prevent a march of Mosley’s blackshirts through the East End, and he condemned the social injustice which has led to a widening gap between rich and poor, and rejoiced in his recent victory over British Gas whereby in compensation for overcharging he had received £100.



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