Tag Archives: loneliness

Memories of a visit to a man who sent best wishes from his dead parents

Brown_lady_ghostSandra Smith – this blog’s South Coast correspondent – sent me this memory:


Some years ago my daughter mentioned that she had met a Jewish man called Lawrence, who would often come into the place that she worked for a chat.

He eventually started to send me a card at Christmas time, sending best wishes to me, from him, and from his dead parents.

This continued for two or three years, until he eventually extended an invitation to go to his house for a cup of tea.

Nicky and I duly turned up at the appointed time and, as we entered a very gloomy hallway, to the sound of him locking the front door behind us, I could just make out many neat piles of what appeared to be newspapers.

We were  shown into his sitting room, a room clearly frozen in time.

I made my way to a chair, through knee-high cobwebs to the left and right of me, where nobody had walked for some time.

I sat down.

While Lawrence went to make some tea – there was the offer of ginger beer if we preferred it – I noticed a chair in front of me with a shawl and dressing gown folded over its back. The table to the left of it had a cup and saucer on it, with a book and spectacles that looked as though they had been discarded for a moment and that the owner of these would be back very soon to continue reading  their book.

There were a pair of women’s slippers under the television. On the mantelpiece were many containers of pills and, as I looked closer, I could see that they were dated seven years previously.

I was aware that we were locked in the house, as I tried to push the words BATES MOTEL from my mind.

Tea arrived and we chatted for some time, while it grew dark outside.

We chatted about lots of things, as many people do over a cup of tea.

Lawrence touched upon life with his parents but not, as I remember, about the fact that they were dead.

He did mention that people had tried to interfere in his life, but that he had sent them packing as he felt it an intrusion.

I asked him about the newspapers. He just said that he enjoyed keeping them.

The afternoon came to an end and we said our goodbyes.

Nicky saw Lawrence from time to time and she invited him to her wedding.

Some of the older people did ask who he was, as he was a little eccentric-looking. But he seemed to enjoy his time with us and was very chatty throughout the day.

Lawrence did eventually accept the help and support that was being offered to him from all sides.

He eventually moved from his house into what I like to think of as a commune, but was probably called a rest home. And he lived out the remainder of his days enjoying the company of others.

Not lonely anymore.

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A talk with a man in a rumpled grey suit which looked slightly too big for him

A comb

A comb

I went to the Leicester Square Theatre last night to see a very good Burns Night comedy show.

Though it was not Burns night.

Before the show, comedian Simon Munnery got out a tape measure and, unseen by most of the audience, was very carefully noting in a book the dimensions of a seat towards the very back of the auditorium. When he performed his act on stage, he never referred to this.

I texted him after his performance: Why were you measuring the seats before the show?

Aye; ah have ma reasons, he texted back.

Afterwards, I was on a train back home to Borehamwood.

At Mill Hill Broadway station, a middle-aged man got into the carriage and sat opposite me. I had to get off at Elstree station, the next stop.

“I know you, don’t I?” he said.

“I don’t think so,” I told him.

I think I may have a common face. Occasionally I get mistaken for other people. Though never for Brad Pitt or Justin Bieber.

“It was about twenty years ago,” the man persisted.

I have a terrible memory for names but a good memory for faces.

He talked a lot about the rain. He tried telling me the names of various people we might know in common but nothing specific about companies or towns we might have met in. Mostly, he talked a lot about Margaret Thatcher (he was not a fan) and the television programmes he watched when he was a child growing up in St Albans. It was a monologue rather than a conversation. Then he talked about the rain again.

We reached Elstree station. I got up to leave.

“We’ve never met,” he told me.

“I didn’t think so,” I said.

“I just wanted someone to talk to,” he said, smiling slightly.

I went home.

He stayed on the train.

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