Sign of the times


Sign of the times.

I met a man in the park.

He was playing with his two year old son by a stripped bare trunk of tree blown down in the storm of 1987. Soon our sons were playing together as we chatted about children’s cartoons.

We joked about how the ‘fat controller’ is no longer described as this in Thomas the Tank Engine.

Andy Pandy or was it Bill and Ben? have also been visited by the ‘PC’ police. We joked that watching The Magic Roundabout and Bagpuss hadn’t done us any harm!

We talked about our good fortune at having a wealth of lush, green open spaces for our children to enjoy.

‘Anything free is good for us,’ he confided. ‘I lost my job last week. I’m a civil engineer. We thought we’d get two big contracts, but we didn’t get either of them. So it was bye bye.’

I commiserated him and assured him that something new would turn up. He agreed it would, saying with a wry laugh, ‘I will even stack shelves at Sainsbury’s if I have to!’ ‘The good thing,’ he added, ‘is that my wife’s a school teacher, so her job is fairly secure.’

I felt touched that a stranger had confided in me about a change in life circumstances, based solely on our shared interaction as parents. When economic hardship bites, there are two positive outcomes:

People tend to talk more openly, sharing their thoughts and fears – even in London! People are also display more of an appetite to consume life’s simple pleasures. That are free.

© Suzy Rigg

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