Something I wrote on Facebook that my Twitter followers might like to read as well!
I like talking to people, I like talking to strangers. I’m a writer, some would call it nosey, I call it being curious, inquisitive, part of my job. People ask me where I get my ideas. From incidents like this. Today, after a good session in the gym, I went to the bank. There was an elderly man standing behind me, in his 80s, I reckoned. The tap, tap, tapping of his walking stick made me think he was impatient or in pain or just uncomfortable standing. It also made me think that post offices and banks should have a counter just for the elderly or those who cannot stand for long. I decided I would be a good member of the community and offer him my place. ‘No,’ he said, ‘you go on.’ I said I wouldn’t let my mother queue. ‘Well, I’m not your mother.’ To which we both burst out laughing. No, you’re not, I said. He talked about getting older and forgetful, I said we’re all getting older and forgetful. ‘How old do you think I am?’ To be polite and I really did not want to get it wrong, I said, late 70s. ‘Nah, I’ll be 94.’ I stood back, jaw dropped. No way! ‘I was born in 1922.’ Quick calculation, this meant he was in WWII. I wanted to ask him questions, but at that moment, the buzzer lit up at counter 5. It was my turn. Off I went, waving to this lovely man. I was gutted I didn’t have time to talk more. Cut to 20 mins later. In Sainsburys. I walk past the fresh soups, totally forgetting that was one of the items I wanted. Bought everything else, went back to soups. ‘You’re not following me are you?’ A twinkle in his eyes, it was the man from the bank. I said, I was dying to ask you questions. What you did in the war, etc. etc. etc. The fresh soup aisle of Sainsbury’s on Dog Kennel Hill has never been so exciting. He was a commissioned officer in the air force (I knew he was in the air force). I asked his name. Withers. First name? Frederick. His nickname was Googie – yes, you’ve got it. For those who don’t know, Googie Withers was an actor. This Googie flew a Halifax. I said, my wife’s father flew Wellingtons or Lancasters, and we have his logbook. ‘Oh my log book is in a museum in Portsmouth along with my uniform.’ Now he lives alone in a big house in Dulwich. I invited him to our Fun Palace. ‘Where’s that then?’ Brockwell Lido. ‘Oh I haven’t been swimming for ages. I love swimming.’ I asked if he swam there when it was a pond. ‘Oh yes.’ I borrowed a pen from another woman on the soup aisle, gave Googie my number, told him to call, that I would like him to come to the Fun Palace. And he said YES. I also said I would pop round with some cake. As I said. I like talking to people. And sometimes, not always, but sometimes, this is the result. Frederick Withers you have made my day. Now I’m waiting for the phone to ring… To be continued… in a play, at some point…
4 thoughts on “Googie & Me!”
What a lovely encounter! Really enjoyed reading about it thank you!!
Did he come to the Fun Palace? I bet you made his day too as I bet people don’t ordinarily speak to him. We should do it much more often.
Hah, sorry for the tardy reply! No I don’t think he did. Maybe I’ll get him along to this year’s…