We’ve got a long way to go yet…

Looked like a pole
holding up his tent raincoat
the old man – even older than me
and I’m past four score.
Had a captain’s cap on
trying to look nautical
for holiday at the shore
is my I guess.

He’d asked three groups of people
but all shook their head.
None could name the street
they were on much less
tell him where Number 37 was.

I was carrying groceries
so he might have guessed
I live here, but he asked anyway.
Yes, I told him, and
as it happens I fully
understood his problem –
the street we were on
does seems to end (or start)
at Number 40. Truth is
the street he was looking for
snakes around a corner
a bit further up, growing fat
as a boa after lunch as it does.
Medieval city-planning
has left a short branch
that should have been
the continuation – a tiny street
that even people born here
rarely know the name of.
I do. It translates as
Whisper Lane. So hush-hush
there isn’t even a street sign!

I explained he was not
on the street he thought he was
on, pointed out where that was
but said I couldn’t help
with the numbers
as I lived much further up.
Only a few words – but
enough for him to discover
my accent…so he went
and stopped someone else!

I dug my heels as I clipped
along to the number he
was looking for, turned
sharply, pointing at the door
as I bellowed – in HIS
language – HERE IT IS

I once asked Athol Fugard –
the man who wrote The Island? –
why he wrote so much about
prejudice. He said it was because
he was so full of it himself.

Still, I shouldn’t have let myself
get so angry at the old coot.

Some days, nobody gets it right.