The problem with the human race


Those moments in life when you have the delight of your own existence on this planet brushing by the existence of another that wakens all sorts of stories within you.

The problem with the human race. J R Manawa.

I met a man with a mind as fit as a fiddle on the bus today. I say so, because his body was in graceful decline, and he referred to himself as an old man. But he was about as dapper as dapper could be, with a tailored linen jacket, a good hat sporting a straight brim, and a clean shaven face that ran all the way up to the keen spark in his eyes.

“Packed in today, aren’t we?” He said as I sat down beside him. “I thought if I waited till 9:30 I would avoid all the school kids, seems everyone had the same idea.”

I agreed. We bemoaned the duration we’d had to wait to get a bus, and the Law of Sod that there would be at least two buses in quick succession after this one.

“There used to be electronic signs on the bus stops up here to let you know what was going on, but they removed all those. Government cutbacks and all.”

I agreed that it was annoying, but pointed out we could all get updates on our phones now.

“You say that, but look around this bus, look at them. Less than half of them have a phone like that.” He points to my iPhone, which as always, I have ready in my hand.

I tuck it away. “You know, you are right.” I’m put in my place and happy to admit it.

We discussed technology and the direction of the world. He’d lived in my area all his life and he worked for the government. I didn’t need to talk much. His words were woven with clarity and eloquence such that my ears were commanded to do what they were designed to do, simply listen.

He spoke about the number of murders in London, compared with the country in recovery after the war, how one likely could say we have in London every day a comparable number to what England would have seen in a year.

He was probably right, and if his statistics were off a bit, it didn’t matter, it was a comparison rightly made — the deterioration of the human race, I said.

“The problem with the human race is ‘man’.” He replied. “It’s women and children who die in these wars we make and fights we start.”

We moved to politics and politicians in their chauffeur driven jaguars.

“I went to Downing Street. I met with Tony Blair once. You know, I call the lot of them Twerps. Labour, Tories, Liberals, the lot of them. Next thing you know I won’t even be able to say that, not to their faces anyway.”

“But we have freedom of speech,” I argued, after my laughter. “Our fathers and grandmothers fought for that.”

“Not even that any more. You watch. It’s going I tell you, a sad state of affairs. I used to go to Speaker’s Corner. I heard some great speeches there. It’s all but gone now.”

He’s right. I remember it when I first arrived in London, and now, even in those ten short years.

“I have to laugh at it all,” he paused and smiled, “else all I would do is cry.”

I quote Abraham Lincoln badly in agreement, “We laugh, lest we cry.”

He smiled. “Well, this is my stop.” He said. “I’ll say I wish you a good day, and hope I haven’t ruined it with these ruminations of an old man.”

“Not at all, not at all.” I repeated myself, for his comfort and my gratitude.

He got off the bus, thanked the driver as he went, and tucked his most excellent black umbrella under his arm before he made his way toward the station, turning back once to give me a smile and an ever-so-genteel tip of his hat.

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