Three good neighbours

“Why oh why did I try to get out of Leicester on the inner ring-road at this time in the morning?! I’m already running late and this is dreadful! I should have gone the other way…”

All the traffic was squeezing into one lane, slowing everything down so that only one vehicle at a time could cross the lights before they changed again.  I remembered last year when I’d come this way and run into the back of someone at the same lights.  It was all down to stress and worry about being late that time. Not wanting to repeat the performance I decided to relax and be patient, tuning into Classic Fm instead. It hardly mattered if I was running late for a lunch date with friends, did it? When in the Midlands drive like a Midlander, not a speed-crazed Southerner!  When we all got to the reason for the jam it was amusing enough to make the delay worthwhile – someone had pulled out of a junction and hit a police car… Whoops!

Slowly, slowly along the A47 – Google Maps you don’t usually lead me astray so I have to trust the alternative route would have been even worse! Ah, look – a Wilko.  (Our printer has stopped working and it has been suggested that the fuse in the plug might be the answer to nothing happening, so getting a packet of fuses was top of my list). There was a space in front of the Baptist church so impetuously I turned up onto the pavement and backed in to borrow it for five minutes, hoping no outraged Baptists would spot me. I was very pleased that I wouldn’t have to make a special trip across town on my bike to get the wretched things.

Fuses in hand, back in the car, ready to rejoin the queue of cars heading out of town, I pulled out across the pavement and waited for someone to let me into the line of cars.  A lady came up pushing a wheelchair with a disabled young person As I was completely blocking their way,  the rear of my car still in the church grounds, the front on the kerb, she now had to wait as well. “Sorry! I’ll be out in a minute, if someone will let me in.” 

“It doesn’t matter”, she said, “we’re not in a hurry”. “Oh so sorry”, I said again, as nobody let me out of this embarrassing situation, and, “Hey you lot, what about ‘Do for others what you would like them to do for you’?!”  “It really doesn’t matter, she said, we’re not in a hurry” – and she smiled at me and at the cars continuing to flow past without a gap. She meant it, happily standing on the pavement with her charge, relaxed and friendly,

Fortunately, just then a Sikh gentleman put his brakes on to allow me to bump onto the road and as I called thanks to him and to the patient woman, she said “It’s alright. I’m only a carer”.  Only a carer? I thought. What is more important than that? What else are we humans supposed to be?

***

I had a nice day out in one of the pretty villages in the sunshine with my friends – a painting party with much laughter and a good lunch, just what I needed.  It was a far cry from the lady on the pavement’s life, I’m sure. Really, what have I got to be stressed or anxious about, driving home via Sainsbury’s in my big posh car, wandering down the aisles at my own pace, with no-one to push or carry?

On arrival at the yard where I park, I met my neighbour, keen to help me carry the bags of food and art materials. I could have managed but there were five – it would have been a struggle. “Come through my house, it’s easier. I’ll bring it to your door, no problem” Don’t you just love kindness – those little extras people do, going out of their way to help? It is so rare and beautiful.  Plus he insists on coming on Thursday to help me rake and re-seed my front ‘lawn’ (more moss and weeds than grass) which is a job too far for me at the moment, the thought of which was really getting me down. I am so grateful!  (and you know who you are!)

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Thirdly, there’s an amazing woman who does my ironing. She collects and delivers it back and it is aways beautifully done, hung or folded as I choose, and not very expensive. I am so happy to employ her as she is a single-mother with six children running her own business to survive. People like me need people like her and vice versa.  What’s extraordinary about Leila is she wears a full burkha for her trips around the city. She strides along New Walk all in flapping black with my colourful summer dresses over her shoulder and blue laundry bag in the other hand – an amazing sight, even in Leicester!  I love it! What courage, determination and grace she has, being herself out in the world in which she’s been forced to be self-sufficient. And she is fun, and laughs and likes me – even though I have never seen her face. She probably feels safer underneath all that – and it’s certainly warmer in those winter winds. Though she did give m a fright running up the path the other evening (yes, running!)

But I let her down tonight – and this is about the fourth time 😦  I forgot she was coming.  Again!  Oh dear – how rude of me! And last time she was so worried, she thought I’d been taken ill inside the house because I’d said I’d be in not twenty minutes before… but forgot and went to the pub.  Tonight I was at a meeting with mayoral candidates when an Asian lady stood up to speak – and I remembered Leila! And there were three missed calls. (Oh no!)  I texted and she was still outside the house, so at least she doesn’t have to come back with the heavy clothes… I told her to hang them on the trellis. But I’m embarrassed, apologetic texts, etc. Another one who says ‘it doesn’t matter…’

If it was me I’d probably blacklist myself – but she won’t. She says six children have taught her to be patient… And I am so glad I know this woman and can help support the life she leads and that she forgives me and hasn’t become bitter.

Good neighbours – gentle, kind and patient – the extra-ordinary people of Leicester, among whom I live, who help make my life here easier and happier.

***

By the way, the new fuse didn’t fix the printer problem… hmmmm

2 thoughts on “Three good neighbours

  1. Oh this one made me cry. But has also gone and made me book an extra riding lesson for tomorrow. Long story about the connection there but there is … at least for me XXX

    By the way I love that you’re blogging and again and with your usual honesty. I think you are totally amazing XX

    Liked by 1 person

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