‘How far into town love?’ Said the lady by the boot of her car as I strolled past the hotel car park.
Her friend turned to hear the answer as well and I removed my earphones as I walked up to the small wall between us.
‘Which town?’ I asked. ‘You’re in between Leamington and Warwick – which one do you want?’
‘We don’t mind. We just want to go shopping,’ She replied.
‘Whichever has charity shops!’ Said the other lady enthusiastically.
‘Well.’ I started.
‘If you follow this road (Regent Street) the first one you’ll find on the left is Save the Children. If you cross directly over the road after that then you can hit the Red Cross. After that go a couple of doors down for the RSPA (they only take cash) then a few doors down again for Sue Ryder (my personal favourite).’
They looked at me – and then at eachother – a little surprised.
‘If you then go back over the road and cross the street you’ll see the British Heart foundation in front of you on the left – but that’s not the end. Double back on yourself, then you’ll see the Myton Hospice on Bedford Street and Cancer Research on the corner.’
They looked at eachother.
‘If you carry on up the road and look to your right down Warwick Street you’ll see Oxfam – and if you head down past the Royal Priors you’ll see Marie Curie, Scope and ANOTHER Myton Hospice.’
‘If that’s not enough then at the bottom of the Parade opposite the town hall there’s the Salvation Army and the Cat’s Protection League (they order the whole shop by garment colour!) and Barnardos even further down.’
Still silence. They looked at eachother.
‘We seem to have asked the right man.’ One of them finally laughed.
‘Everything I’m wearing is from charity!’ I said, striking a brief pose and motioning to my apparel. I took a large carrier bag out of my pocket and pointed enthusiastically at it.
‘I never leave home without a carrier bag – just in case I find something in a charity shop!’
‘Us too!’ They said – also taking out their carrier bags to show me. It seemed we had all recently shopped at Tesco.
‘Snap!’ I said.
‘Is it easier to drive or walk? The shorter of the two asked.
She was dressed in light and airy linen clothes and looked like a kindly person. There was a twinkle in the eyes behind her glasses.
‘It’s way easier to walk. Parking is a pain.’ I replied. ‘Would you like me to show you?’
The two ladies giggled and nodded. ‘Lead the way!’ The shorter one said enthusiastically.
We headed off down the pavement and began to chat as we strolled.
I was clearly in like minded company, so we began to compare the bargains we were wearing – all of which it turned out were pre-loved.
We all shared a weakness for M&S clothes and also rather liked the quality of the Sainsburys TU brand. Although not quite up there with M&S it was both reasonably priced and very hard wearing for girls AND boys we concluded.
The taller lady in darker clothes was miffed. In the rush to leave she had neglected to bring some things that had remained in the boot of her car. Since her friend had driven instead this meant that somewhere in Northampton (where they had travelled from) there was a car boot containing a large and irritatingly unopened bottle of Baileys.
She’d also left her coat behind – although the latter seemed to be a much less of an annoying omission than the former because it was turning into quite a nice day.
As we walked toward town we began to talk a little about what we did for a living and what had brought them to Leamington.
They were taking a day out from their stressful lives and had randomly decided on the spur of the moment to stay at a hotel, do some shopping and have a few gin and tonics away from home.
The blonde lady dressed in light airy linen worked in education and the other in a black tee-shirt was a carer. Both specialised in dealing with people suffering from dementia – but at very different stages of the condition.
They seemed like nice ladies – and for about 20 minutes we walked and talked. The carer lit a cigarette as we chatted and thoughtfully puffed away as we shared thoughts about work and life.
She was worried about a lady she was looking after and didn’t think that she was making her life any better. She was getting worse and there was little that anyone could do. It was playing on her mind and the fact that she had to syringe feed her in the mornings was a real cause for concern.
She was terrified that the woman in her care would accidentally choke.
Her face seemed to reflect the weight of more worry than her companion and I noticed that in contrast to her heavy frown lines the shorter woman maybe had evidence of more smiles alongside the blue eyes behind her glasses.
She was listening to her friend and nodding understandingly until a pause came and she described what she did for a living.
Her job (although related more to education) meant that she too specialised in dementia – but as part of a research project. Working with a local University she had for a few years been dealing with recently diagnosed people – often scared and confused by the radical changes in their lives.
One lady she knew (she was very young – a mere 50 years old) had become unexpectedly violent in a shop lately and her family were struggling to come to terms with it all.
Another older woman she regularly interacted with was beginning to lose the ability to communicate and it saddened her to see the rapid decline. She clearly liked the lady that she was talking about.
‘She’s lovely. So nice. Very proper. Doesn’t like swearing.’
I nodded – listening.
‘If anyone in her family uses bad language then she writes them a letter!’ She said, shooting me a stern look. ‘Doesn’t like it at all.’
She shook her head with mock seriousness to underscore the point and I laughed.
‘It’s a generational thing!’ I said. ‘These days it’s rare to meet someone that offended by language that they’d send a letter. You might get a frowning emoji from someone in a text but that’s about it…’
‘Maybe an unhappy face or two as well.’ I concluded.
‘Yep. It’s a thing of the past.’ She laughed. ‘It’s all texts these days.’
Her friend nodded as she reached the end of her cigarette.
Then, all too soon we were at Save the Children and they were both excitedly peeking through the window.
‘Well – I better get to where I need to be.’ I said. ‘I hope you two enjoy your break – and it was lovely to meet you.’ I shook their hands and we exchanged names as they thanked me for the brief tour of the town.
‘Have fun bargain hunting!’ I said and bid them farewell as they disappeared into the little cave of wonders. I headed on my way, in search of reasonably priced coffee and a baked potato with cottage cheese.
But what of Davey internet? Did he find a bargain?
Naturally! He found a lovely summery shirt!
But is he still a shameless poseur and selfie taker?
Mais Oui! Voici le chemise à fleurs!