Monday, May 08, 2006


Mr Tindall comes down the stairs tentatively, but greets me firmly. He touches my shoulder and smiles when I tell him that I've 'come for him'. I follow him back upstairs and help him choose a jacket to wear.
'Is it cold?' he asks.
'No - bright, chilly, but not exactly cold.'
I tell him he'll be fine if he puts a light jacket over his jungle green cardigan, the pockets of which bulge pendulously with paper tissues.
'I'm used to the warmer weather you see,' he says, as I help him on with the jacket.

On the ambulance he tells me his story:
'When I came out of the army I was apprenticed to a jeweller. I learned the trade inside out in six years, and worked at it pretty hard. Eventually I was able to set up in a little shop in H. Did very well, very quickly. Lord knows why. Loads of people wanted me to fix their watches, sell them rings and such. They threw money at me. I didn't know what to do with it. Piles of money, silly really. In the end I thought: What do I really need with all this? So I sold the business to a man who wanted to set his son up. I stayed there with him for three months to teach him the trade and to make sure that everything was fine before I left. It didn't work out, though. Poor man. I could understand what he wanted to do for his son, but the trouble was his son was lazy, you see. Had absolutely no interest in the business. Really no interest at all. He'd just sit there on his stool, smoking cheroots. Went bankrupt within the year. Anyway, I went to live in Spain, there thirty years, did nothing, drank beer with my friends, slept by the pool, until I caught the flu and my sister came over and said "Right, you - you're coming home."'

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