Posted on Thursday, January 1, 2009
in Family, Strange and Unusual
A quiet suburban cul-de-sac. An old rusty hammer clangs relentlessly against plastic tubing, then drops with a clatter onto concrete below.
‘Bollocks’ I say, fed up with my quota of loose guttering. I know the plasticky thing here is supposed to just slot neatly back into its home, but it won’t. Its logic escapes me completely.
A tall man nearby hears my expletive and turns to find me teetering on the edge of a wooden stool and watches as my enthusiasm for DIY grows flaccid. I pretend not to see him, having been caught in such a delicate moment, but he approaches anyway without a word or a grin. He reaches with his six foot frame, pushes the plastic guttering far above my reach, and slots it neatly home.
“Thanks!” I feel stupid.
He follows me inside my home, and I introduce him to TAT. He sits on a kitchen chair with the familiarity of an old dog, and begins to regale us with local tales… stories flow from him for four hours, and whiskey is poured. My stomach growls.
Finally he leaves, but warns us that he won’t remember any of this evening’s conversations or occurrences, nor will he know exactly who he’s waving at tomorrow when our neighbourly paths cross again.
“‘Cos of the crash, you see. No short term memory.” He ambles back to his house and I realise that this is a sweet ticket I’ve inherited. My imagination goes wild… the paranoia that sometimes applies to some conversations doesn’t apply to this bloke… a kind, hardworking sort of bloke, a walking encyclopedia of local ancient anecdotes with no opinion of me whatsoever because his memory of me will always be hazy. I like him already.
And besides… he has that prophetic quality, having survived a car collision with seven souls on board, all still walking this earth. Back in the 80’s when seat-belts and drink-driving were not issues as heavily bet into us as they are today, our new bearded neighbour had attempted to bring his mates home with a skinful under his belt in a Renault Fuego and sorely learned his mistake.
“They gave me thirty six hours” (he told us gravely) “before they would switch off my machines. I lifted my hand with ten minutes to go. I can’t remember it though, I can’t remember any of it.” This chap then had to re-learn every nuance of life that we take for granted, from scratch. He was given a second chance. A lucky sod, or a dude with a purpose? I’m not sure, but pretty intriguing nonetheless.
“If I did come back in the next life” he told us at one stage… “I would come back as a goldfish, to spend my days in a cow’s drinking trough, cleaning the water for them to drink. That’s a noble profession.”
2009 should be nothing if not interesting!
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU!