Sunday, 25 January 2009
They look at me they do. I know they do but it means nothing. It's the 30 minutes of attention I get every day. It's the feeling of pudding without the custard, sweets that have fallen to the bottom of your handbag without any wrappers on. A feeling of disappointment and frustration but nothing will change it because it has already happened. It was fate, meant to be and all that. What can you do about it? Absolutely nothing.
I have lived and walked on these streets for 77 years. They all know me, they do. Some by name, some by my nature. Many stop, stare and giggle. Some approach me menacingly but I don't budge for anyone. This crazy little lady won't give up easily especially after everything I have been through. When push comes to shove, I will shove.
When you are elderly and have little money as the state pension and your late husband's pension provide you pittance, life is awfully hard. I refuse to go to a home and for the past 15 years I have lived in various squats around east London, and at the moment I reside in one on Commercial Road. I used to be an artist and a part-time teacher but now my hands are tired and old and I don't have the stamina I used to. I have very few belongings and the most important ones - a Tolkein book that belonged to my late husband, a fistful of dog eared photographs and some money, I keep in the pram. The pram never leaves my side, no sir. The pram keeps me alive. Pushing it around and up and down keeps my strength up every day. I don't rely on it to walk but I do rely on it for some company and energy.
People don't seem to like it, particularly the young women with children. They have a mix of pity and anger in their eyes when they see it. Why does she have a pram? Is there a child in there? She can barely walk herself let alone look after a child! Where are its parents? Oh no, look! She has some crumpled Tesco bags in there. What a poor, poor woman - she doesn't even realise she's pushing a pram and how peculiar she looks!
If you knew me you would know, that one time more than anything, I wanted to push this pram with my own child inside. A little boy or girl, I don't mind and I would have loved both with my entire heart. I would have loved to have made my son or daughter a crocheted hat, knitted booties and a fine, woollen scarf. My tiny pride of joy would sit in their throne and I would wheel them slowly whilst pointing out the sights and sounds of our London.
If you knew me you would know, that my late husband was the only love of my life, the only one who loved me back just as much and you would know that we talked constantly about our future little ones and what they were called and where we would raise them and where we would take them for their first holiday.
If you knew me then you would know, that my beloved was stolen from me when he was so young and so handsome and so full of love. I never recovered from that loss and I never recovered from his love. If you knew me then you would know, that I could not go on to have little ones with anyone else when I constantly know that the only father for them is already 6 feet under.
But you don't know me so you will never know and I will continue to be the mad old woman who pushes the pram with tears in her eyes.