Having a day off today. Contacted Queen of Chaos (aka my twin sister) to see if she wanted to meet for lunch. She had an hour and a half between picking up currency for her holiday and getting her hair done, would that do, she asked.
Being an hour early, I went to cash machine and then walked past a charity book shop. It’s the law that if you have cash and you walk past a charity book shop you have to go in and buy something.
There tucked into a shelf was The Husband by Dean Koontz. This was recommended recently (thanks Marley) so the necessary transaction was, well, transacted. See me, happy man with book in his hand.
Walked down to the cafe where I was meeting Queen of Chaos and set myself up for a wee read. She was early too. See me trying to look pleased to see her.
We hugged, passed the usual social niceties...
Me – you look well, sis.
QC – you look brown, you been in the sun ...actually...you look rough. Don’t think I’ve ever seen you look so rough.
Me – and here’s me about to buy you lunch.
QC – oh, you buying? But you still look rough.
We order. We wait for food to arrive. QC talks about her upcoming holiday with her boyfriend. I mostly zone out. I find it helps to when she starts talking about her boyfriend. The occasional grunt from me gives her the pretence that I’m listening and she seems to be happy about that. It’s all about her, really and the words that are queuing to get out of her gob.
While I’m zoning out, a bus stops outside the cafe. An old lady tries to walk towards it. She holds a hand out to grab a handle on the side of the bus and slowly lifts a leg. The driver seeing her struggle is out of his seat before you can say “single to Ayr”. With infinite patience the driver carries her bags over to a seat and then taking her arm her guides her to it. Ahhh, nice.
Our food arrives. We eat. This is the only time QC is silent. We finish. I go to pay. No wallet.
QC – I’ve never seen your face go flush like that before.
Me – I’ve lost my wallet.
QC – oh.
Luckily, I have some cash in my jacket pocket which is enough to cover the meal. We retrace our steps with QC going...
Oh, that’s a shame. I hate it when that happens. What a shame. Go to the bank cancel your cards then go to the police station in case anyone has handed it in. That’s a shame. Oh man I hate it when that happens. Shit, I bet some bastard has spent all your money. There’s a lot of horrible people about.
Me – not to worry it’s only money and my credit cards and a photo of the wee man and my national trust card.
I am actually feeling ok about this. Like I know it’s going to turn out fine. In fact, I'm thinking there's no need to fully retrace my steps because I'm sure it's going to be in the bank. But, just in case I think we should go the whole hog.
QC – how come you’re so calm? I’d be screaming if this was me.
Me – Nobody died. And I’ll only panic when I find out someone has taken my card and spent all of the £20 I have left in my account.
We walk to the charity shop.
QC – I bet they have it. I can just tell. I bet you it’s here.
Me to the assistant – anybody handed in a wallet?
Assistant – no.
QC – in a stage whisper – bastards.
We continue on our loop and approach the bank where I’d withdrawn the money. A member of staff is walking towards us on a cigarette break. I know her. I say hi.
Bank staff – oh, hi Michael.
I walk past.
Bank staff – Michael. You haven’t lost your wallet have you?
Me – news travels fast in these parts.
Bank staff – someone just handed it in. A wee Asian chap. Said he found it just at the cash machine. I read the name on the card and thought it must be another Michael Malone. C’mon I’ll walk with you inside.
Me – how nice is that!
QC – see, there are some nice people in the world.
Me – man, that is so nice. (I turn to bank staff who is just back from maternity leave) How’s the baby?
Bank staff – he’s gorgeous. But I would say that.
QC – I’d say it too. I’m a qualified child minder in case you’re interested.
Me – my god – how did you just manage to shoe-horn that into the conversation?
QC – laughs – being shy just doesn’t get you anywhere, brother.
Me – You’re shameless. Oh and I’ve just realised that I was standing in the restaurant with what might have been my last penny and you never even offered to pay.
QC – laughs – but my hair is this shitty brown colour and I need to get it done before I go on that plane tomorrow morning.
(So a BIG thank you to the honest man in Troon. Saved me a lot of hassle. Thank you.)
On the way home, more kindness is in evidence. I drive past a sheltered complex where a taxi-driver is watching over an arthritic old man as he struggles up his path. The driver is standing there as if waiting to rush to his aid if the old man falls.
I’m expecting by the time I get home that someone has unpacked my suitcase, washed all my clothes, cut my grass and laid a nice dinner out on the table.
The way things have gone today, you just never know.