12/07/13 More tales of the riverbank…

…so, there I was being greeted by a complete stranger – a man who, at this point, had no idea why I was wandering about the place.

We exchanged a few words, and he asked me when I was hoping to stop walking today…

I waffled on a bit about how wonderful it is to feel such freedom – to know that my day is over when I say it’s over…

‘…because there’s a bed here if you want it…?’ he smiled gently as he pointed at his narrowboat.

I dropped my things to the floor, ‘Looks like I’ve finished for the day then…’

He’d offered this generous hospitality, and he didn’t even know my name.

He popped into his floating home and returned with a chair, ‘Have a seat – I just need to park my car…’

And with that, he was gone.

I sat on the towpath – quite regally I thought – waving to folk passing on their boats, to folk walking by, I was quite enjoying this illusion as owner of this beautiful craft…

And then I experienced just a little doubt…he hadn’t come back…maybe this was some wizard jape where this man thought it would be hilarious to pretend he was an owner of a boat – to feign hospitality, chuckling to himself as he walked off…?

Back in reality, he came back having parked his car and he took me inside, showing me the wonder of his world.

The wonder of his world, however, had little to do with the stuff he owned – it was who he was…

Here was a man who, on occasion, wears a bowler hat and a red cravat as he chugs along the canal, waving to all and sundry…

A man who worked his life as a photography lecturer, who lived his life as a father and a husband…

A man who, in his younger years, bought an old Bedford ambulance so he could drive to India to spend some time working with a woman he greatly respected…

A man who continued her work by setting up an orphanage – offering a family, education and a life to those young people who’d experienced horrible loss…

A man who’d had first hand experience of the generosity and hospitality of the people on his travels who themselves had very little…

And here he was, telling me his stories, sharing his food, sharing with me the most valuable thing that anyone has to offer…his time.

I asked him what had made him offer me a bed for the night,

‘I liked the cut of your jib, ‘ he grinned.

I was quite impressed by his.

I was reluctant to leave the following morning – I’m sure he has more tales to tell…just being in his company was enriching.

But the towpath and the world ahead was calling me…

What a great man though – a man who, only 16 hours earlier, had been a complete stranger.

The magic continues.

Walk a mile

Chris

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This entry was posted in economy, hospitality, inequality, mental health, walking and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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