A life’s work

July 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

The gentleman waiting on platform two might perhaps have retired from a senior role in the finance sector – something, most likely, that allowed him a certain level of comfort, not to mention confidence. He is standing in civvies: a polo shirt, tennis shoes and a pair of shorts that don’t smack of the usual English awkwardness about knees; maybe  he acquired them on a recent trip to Italy, where he’d have remarked to his wife, not for the first time, that they know a thing or two about menswear over there.

Despite all that, he can’t mask a slight cast to his features – he is scanning the passengers descending from the train, and though it is only when he spots the passenger for whom he has been waiting that he moves from the spot where he’s been standing, the set of his shoulders suggests an uncharacteristic nervousness.

Perhaps he is always like this. Perhaps it is the same with all parents of grown children, that they must put their fears to one side whilst their offspring are out in the world, but that those fears rise, inexplicably, when they know that the children are returning but are not yet quite within sight.

And here is our man once again, striding along the platform with an attractive young woman who must be his daughter. He’s carrying the heavier of her two bags, and his smile is directed at her but also at anyone who’d care to notice: it says to the world, ‘Look, here is my daughter. She is my proudest achievement and she is home again.’

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