Wednesday, 6 November 2019

The bells are ringing

Yesterday, I fixed the bell with the broken tab (see I-hear-no-bell) by the simple method of strong glue. I held it for some minutes while it hardened to prevent the top popping off again, as Ann looked out of the window. "What's the matter?" she asked in her accusing voice, doesn't it work if you let go?" That night, getting ready for bed with rain lashing down outside, the bell suddenly started ringing without stopping. I rushed down in my pyjamas, and there at the door was Ann, laughing like a maniacal hyena. "You horror," I said. "I thought the rain must have got in and short-circuited the thing!"

Today I went into London for a 07:30 meeting (they start early with Japan, to match their afternoons". Driving down at 5am, the roads are thankfully quiet and I could park easily at Redbridge. However, the tube was as busy as I've seen it, even at that ungodly hour, with the platform crowded and standing room only in the train. One of the adverts above my head proclaimed, "IT'S TIME TO LEAVE THE SINGLE MARKET". We just can't escape the Brexit propaganda, I thought, then read it more carefully as my nose rocked before it. It was an advert for a dating agency. They could have said, "THE BELLS ARE RINGING".

It had been a frosty night, and towards the centre of the carriage, an early morning couple who had got on much earlier were sitting huddled in anoraks, the fur-lined hoods turned up to keep out the cold. At each stop, more people pushed in forcing me closer till I was standing before them, then at Loverpool Street (they were very affectionate), he left. Another young man, closer than I, swung his rucksack off and moved to sit down, then noticed me, and immediately stood aside to offer me the seat. Ahh - the privilege of age. Who said kindness is dead? He then had to swing his rucksack back up, knocking three people on the shoulders. In the absence of her mate, the girl started playing Candy-Crush, and looked equally contented.

In the meeting, my immediate boss, who is a super-efficient woman while still being ultra pleasant, was complaining about not being able to have her breakfast. "It was lovely last week," she said. "I sat in the park in the sun, and a squirrel came up and shared my sandwich. I always have the healthy option: a bacon sandwich in whole meal granary bread and no butter." She said it with such a straight face, I didn't have the heart to laugh.


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