It might have been Joseph Heller who said something along the lines that just because you are paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.
Call me paranoid: It was the middle of the night and it was a desolate bus stop at Luton Airport. I was alone. There was just me, my red suitcase with huge white spots on it that is easier to see than a more restraint style of luggage, and there was my cane of course. Then came the man in the Aaron jumper, (never best worn with mourning dress), who asked me if I needed any help. I was polite but firm. I did not. It was kind of him to offer.
It was a long cold wait, after the second delayed night flight in three days, and little chance of getting home. Aaron jumper and I had just missed the bus. He made me feel as if I was being watched. Luckily we were not alone for long and with each new member of the queue he mouthed and pointed at me. He had got there before any of them and he was first in the queue to ensure that I would be helped and they would be in no doubt who was doing the helping.
When the bus finally arrived he led from the front and made sure I got just what he knew I needed. He gripped my cane and manouvred it for me, thus depriving me of my principle means of establishing what the hell was going on around me. He was going to make sure there were no accidents on his watch.
While I was composing myself after a small tussle and a polite “it’s easier if I do it myself” he held back the waves of competing passengers by stretching out both arms to form a human shield, mouthing something, Les Dawson style, before commanding some bemused Bulgarians to “stand back”.
The man who sold bus tickets thought he knew all about the white cane, but he was in for a treat. Aaron jumper clasped him by the shoulders and explained in more Les Dawson whispers, point and wink tones, that like the QEII, I was approaching.
On the bus, I could sense him looking at me. It’s the strangest feeling to know you are being observed, scrutinised. I got out my phone to check the train times. Aaron jumper said, ‘You can see then”. Praise be that he didn’t say it was a miracle. “Yes” I said. There was a long pause and he said, “But not much”. In a kind of “I was right all along” tone.
When we tipped off the bus at the railway station I suggested that he go first in case he missed his last train. At the ticket barrier he told an unsuspecting woman, in a high viz jacket, that he’d been helping me but he had to run for his train. “Go on” he commanded her. There was no more pointing a winking. “That lady’s blind,” he yelped. “She can’t see a dam thing.” Less she should be in any doubt he gave her a good shove in my general direction. There were raised voices, a tussle. I didn’t hang around. I hope he got his train alright.
On the platform I busied myself with a little bit of eaves dropping on a conversation about one woman’s love affair with cigarettes. Call me paranoid, but they’ll get her in the end.