It’s a Tonic.

by ericavanhorn

1 November Friday

Not every bus journey is a good journey. Every so often the bus we board is a terrible old broken-down vehicle and I wonder how and why they ever let that bus out of the depot. Today’s bus was a bad bus. Many of the seats were broken in one way or another. Some of them were leaning backwards nearly horizontal and several were leaning forward so far that no one could possibly sit on the seat. All of the seats were stained. It is difficult, at first glance, to tell if a stain is fresh and wet and sticky, or just a dry discoloring on the old and grubby upholstery. There were no outlets for plugging in and charging phones. All of the tray tables had been broken off. The only good thing was that it was one of the increasingly rare buses with the exuberant running Irish setter on the woven seat covering fabric.

An older man boarded. He shook hands with everyone in the seats all around him before he sat himself down. He pronounced to the bus at large: “It is a fine day. A fine day to travel by bus.”  He added, “It is good to get away for a day. It’s a tonic.” He did not appear to notice that he was reclining well below the level of the windows on his broken seat.

2 November Saturday

There is a lot of moss everywhere because there has been so much rain and everything is sodden. I am always pleased to see moss growing and glowing down the center of the tar road. It is not exactly growing. It is a smudge. It acts to remind us all that even though the road is supposed to be wide enough for two vehicles we all drive right down the middle as if it were made for just one. The moss is safe to continue growing down the middle. There is no chance that it will be run over and destroyed by tyres.

4 November Monday

I was sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. TippFm was playing quietly on the radio. A special announcement cut in and interrupted the programme to say that Gay Byrne had died. There was only one other person in the room. It was an elderly woman. Her left hand shot right into the the air with her finger pointing upward almost before the announcement was finished. It was the gesture of someone raising their hand to speak in a classroom. She called across to the receptionist in her cubicle and said, “Did you hear that? Gay Byrne is dead!” The receptionist had missed the announcement because she was busy. Together they discussed how very good he was for so many years. Was it 35 or was it 37 years? They agreed that he was brilliant, especially on The Controversial Ideas.
A man came out of the doctor’s rooms and the woman told him right away that Gay Byrne had died.
He looked sad, and a little confused and he asked, “Oooohhh. Ah. No. And how old was he now?”
“He was 85. Such a man. Such a man.”
After the man left, the woman still wanted to talk about Gay Byrne. As a broadcaster and announcer on radio and TV and because of the Late Late Show, everyone in the entire country feels that they know Gay Byrne personally. He was a regular part of life for a long time. Many speak of him fondly as Gaybo. A nickname like that makes him into family. The woman was determined to continue to be the bringer of this news but there was no one left to tell except for me. I was seated only two chairs away, but I was reading my book with my head down.  She turned to me and said, “Erica, did you hear that Gay Byrne died?” I was startled to be addressed by my name. But, of course, she already knew my name because when I first arrived into the waiting room, I had gone to the loo and when I came out of the loo, I told the receptionist that someone had peed all over the floor. I said this quietly, but the receptionist answered in a firm and loud voice. She said, “Thank you, Erica!” She said, “I do not want to know but of course I need to know, so thank you, Erica.” She went off to get a mop and I took a seat to await my turn. That is why the old woman knew my name and that is why I got dragged into the conversation about Gay Byrne being dead.

7 November Thursday

The winds have been fierce. Leaves are blowing down from any tree that still has leaves. They blow into the kitchen each time the door is opened. I swept them up and then I swept them up again and now I have ceased sweeping. There are leaves on the floor. Sometimes there are a lot and sometimes there are not so many because they get kicked and shuffled into the edges and corners of the room. As I make a cup of tea or do any other job, I am happy to crunch around on them. They make a good sound on the stone floor. The leaves outside are soggy and wet and they make no sound at all when I step on them.