There's hope for us all...
On New Year’s Eve 2015 I was waiting for friends to come through the check-out in a supermarket in Ringwood; as everyone else also appeared to be buying party food, the queue wasn’t moving quickly. I found a seat next to an older gentleman and we started talking… He said he had lost his wife... Paused, and as I was about to offer condolences he added "somewhere in the store"!
I asked if he had a nice Christmas to which he replied that he had a very pleasant surprise when his grandson had appeared on his doorstep unannounced. Apparently he had just jetted in from San Francisco and wanted it to be a surprise, which it certainly was.
I asked his Grandson’s age, which I think he said “must be forty something”! At this point his wife appeared and joined-in. I said neither of them looked old enough to have a middle-aged Grandson; they both laughed and said their children were in their sixties; it turned out the old gentleman had been born in 1918 – coincidentally, so was my mum but sadly she didn’t survive the Big C in her fifties.
I then said “well, at least you missed the war" (foot in mouth – again! Of course I meant WW1). “Oh no” he replied, “I flew Hurricanes!” “WOW…” I said, “I bet you were on an adrenaline high all the time”. He responded “after getting all shot-up on my first combat mission I certainly was” “and” he continued “I soon learned how to turn the tables on the enemy without getting shot down myself”…
At this point my friends arrived and we all said “hello” “happy 2016” and “goodbye”… Now thinking about it afterwards THAT was one of those occasions when I wished the checkout queue had got stalled somehow.
PS: Subsequently I contacted the Ringwood RBL Branch but unfortunately they didn't recognise my description of the old gentleman.