Don't Look Now

We were at a party held by Walter and Raya Hertzig, to watch the Red Arrows display and the fireworks over Dartmouth. In fact it turned out to be too drizzly, foggy and windy for them to perform and the fireworks were cancelled as well. However the Red Arrows, not to be entirely thwarted did make one cautious low pass, in full formation up the river valley from the sea, their headlamps full on, before disappearing into the gloom.
An elderly lady with a limp caught my eye and I struck up a conversation with her. The limp she told me was caused by arthritis. She was very old but had lively, intelligent, compassionate eyes, reminiscent of a kindly chimpanzee. She had lived in Western Australia and India and had retired with her husband to France. After he died her family had persuaded her to come back to live in Dartmouth so that they could keep an eye on her. She still had places she wanted to see, like Borneo and Papua New Guinea and she envied me having lived in those places. Her husband had been something to do with Wildlife Conservation.
She sat near the sliding outer doors to the garden but kept her back to the garden. She felt the need of daylight and disliked dark places and the winter. She told me that she had not watched the Red Arrows and that she never would. I was very curious and asked her why? She told me that if she did watch them she feared that they would crash.
When she was a little girl, her father had taken her to see a circus in London. When the trapeze artists went up she had been frightened and told her father that she believed there would be an accident. He had laughed and reassured her that there was absolutely no need to worry. The girl on the trapeze had swung out, tumbled through the air and just missed the man’s outstretched arms. She fell heavily to the floor and was very badly hurt, her back it was thought.
From that time until this, the elderly lady somehow felt that she had made the accident happen and that if she watched the Red Arrows she might cause them to crash too.
I said, perhaps she would like to come down to the Royal Castle Hotel and listen to the jazz one Thursday night. She said she might but I never saw her again.

Don't Look Now

Mike Paget

Liverpool, United Kingdom

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Stories from my life

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