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  • I met an angel tonight. She sat opposite me, sucking the life out of a pear on the 12.07 Gatwick train from Clapham Junction. I watched surreptitiously as this overweight woman with dark brown hair and five-inch white roots devoured her pear and looked around for a bin. I thought, 'she'd better not chuck that core on to the floor or the seat.' She took an empty Tesco bag out and wrapped it up.
    She put it back in her bag.

    I started to nod off. A combination of hard work and vodka. In that order. She nudged me. "You're not wanting to fall asleep love, you'll end up in the back of beyond". We talked a bit. She told me she was on her way home from work. She should have retired a few years ago. She wanted to live on the coast. She'd advised me the best station to get off so I didn't run into trouble in its many forms at this time of night. She told me Norbury was best and she was getting off there too.

    She refused my help off the train even though I could see it was her swollen ankles preventing a dainty exit. As we walked, she asked me about my life. I told her why I wear a headwrap and how lucky I am that that's all I have to deal with. And a bit of eczema. She told me she was returning home from work. She worked as a nurse taking care of two men in their 20's, one with Motor Neurone Disease and one with Cerebral Palsy. She took turns to visit each of them and they lived on either side of south London. It was a lot of travelling, I said. I asked her why she hadn't retired yet. She said; " They'd go into homes if I did love, what would you do?" I thought about it. I'm still thinking.

    I asked her if their minds were fully active. She said, " the mind is the last organ to go and they're only young. They know what's happening to them." We talked some more. She told me my headwrap was very pretty and she wished she could wear something like that to control her coarse Irish hair. I laughed. We smiled and told eachother we were very lucky people. We were blessed. I told her my name and she patted my shoulder, told me it was a lovely to meet me and she got off the bus. I am glad I met her.
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