#ManOnTheMoon? It could be anyone.

So how’s the new John Lewis Christmas advert working out for you?

It’s not my fave but still had me reaching for the tissues and signing up to volunteer as a ‘befriender’ with my local branch of Age UK.

I’ve always been a sucker for loneliness, especially in the older generation. It just feels like a terrible, needless symptom of our fragmented society.

I see it play out in the John-Lewis-owned branch of my local Waitrose all the time. There’s the white-haired lady who wanders the aisles making conversation with anyone who’ll listen. She’s never been married or had children, she once told me at the cheese counter. All her friends and family are dead. Sometimes the only people she speaks to all day are those she speaks to at Waitrose.

And then there’s the old man who seems to eat all his meals in the cafe. The staff know his name, his butter/ spread preferences and how he takes his tea by heart.

‘Do you mind if he shares your table?’ they sometimes ask me. ‘Don’t worry about your two-year-old – he likes the company.’

Of course I’m happy to pass the time of day. I try to make conversation and keep the food missiles to a minimum. We’re all regulars, after all. (What can I say? Waitrose give good coffee. For free. And I’m middle class so it’s practically a calling.)

Thing is, it doesn’t always cut both ways. And today I’m feeling like I’ve been abused in my Happy Place.

Picture the scene: I’m in the cafe with my Small, ploughing through a kids lunch bag and a pot of tea, as per usual. The Small is chirping, hooting with laugher and generally living life to the full with her tube of squeegee yogurt. Zoom, zoom, zoom! It’s a rocket flying to the moon!

Oops, it’s crash-landed next to an old lady sitting on the next table. The parallels with the little girl in the John Lewis advert and her paper aeroplanes don’t escape me. I catch the old lady’s eye a few times and shrug my shoulders conspiratorially.

Yes, the Small is loud, but she’s having fun and I WISH my jaded heart could get so excited about yogurt. Doesn’t she?

Apparently not.

‘Is she always this loud?’ she finally asks.

At first I assume she’s being nice.

‘Yep!’ I trill. ‘You should hear her when she’s fed up!’ I face-palm my forehead to illustrate the point.

Cue total face freeze. The old lady’s expression is cold as stone. She mutters something about ‘staying at home’ to her husband. I’m not a fan of Frozen but suddenly I’m channelling Elsa and turning the old lady to ice by merely existing.

My blood runs cold. She isn’t on our side. She isn’t sharing a sympathetic eye roll with a fellow regular. She’s judging us. Judging my child. For having fun!

Immediately I feel totally stupid for trying to joke with her, for reaching out and assuming my bursting-with-life daughter might brighten her day. That she might indulge me a moment of solidarity with another adult.

What would she have me do? Stay at home? Little did she know, we’d had a rough morning. Full-on terrible twos. Getting out to play group and to the cafe for lunch was a big deal. And you know what? Until we encountered her, things felt like they might be turning round.

What would I have her do? Stay at home? Hide from the noise of normal life if she can’t handle it? No, wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I’ll happily put up with her fumbling for coins in the queue and dithering in the carpark if she’ll put up with our chaos. Live and let live. Isn’t that what a supportive society is all about?

I wish.

#Manonthemoon? It’s not just the old person. It could be anyone. Look around John Lewis or Waitrose, or wherever it is you go to kill time amongst other people; sometimes it’s the mother with the uncontrollable child too. The freelancer nursing one cup of coffee all morning to avoid the isolation of working from home. The middle-aged man escaping the stress of the office. The bored teenager behind the till. All different, all with their own struggles, all bumbling along in the hope of an occasional smile.

Let’s just be nice to each other, a hey?

Running in Lavender
And then the fun began...

9 thoughts

  1. Bab. There is a big shop by us called Boundary Mills. It sells discount Yankee Candles. I went and took my two. We had lunch in the worlds BUSIEST cafe on like a Thursday morning. They made a bit of a mess. And an elderly couple moaned and moaned and you know what I did??? Burst out crying. I cried at them. It was awful. I have never ever since been back. And have never felt the joy of cheap candles x
    brummymummyof2 recently posted…How To Handle ‘The Worry’My Profile

    1. Aw, that’s heartbreaking! Snotty cows, the lot of them. But don’t let them spoil the candles for you. Thanks for reading and commenting. xx

  2. Must be the same woman I met in Sainsbury’s this week! For once I was alone and she was moaning at me about someone elses child making so much noise. I told her I must block it out as it wasn’t bothering me at all. What is it with some people. Sometimes I have to take my boys out just to get through the day x
    Louise Fairweather recently posted…Little Man Turns 4My Profile

  3. I often feel like the woman on the moon, being unwell so often and stuck in the house. I’ve been lucky to have gone out more often in the past few weeks but sickness can be isolating. There are also loads of elderly out there lonely and on there own. I think this was a very compassionate and thoughtful post!

    angela from daysinbed

  4. Oh that’s horrible I had a similar incident on an areoplane once, obviously it was for a longer period of time but the lady was dreadful and moved seat in the end because of my child happily playing was ridiculous but you alway get one I hope it didnt spoil your day Thanks for linking up to #sundaystars x
    Everything Mummy recently posted…Sunday Stars 15/11/2015My Profile

  5. Couldn’t agree more. People can be miserably gits at times. All people, not just old ones. I do think as you get older you become less tolerant but then occasionally you come across someone so lovely that gives you a smile and it brightens your day when it’s not going so well. I would definitely have said a little more than you did to that lady. I’m guessing she may not have ever had children so probably doesn’t know how much a 2 year old can take out of you. x x
    Suzanne recently posted…Take 5 Friday – Week 1My Profile

  6. This is what’s happening when we think that the features on the moon look like a face, that a cloud looks like a dog, that the state of Michigan looks like a mitten, or that the holes in an electrical socket look like a surprised face.

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