This prose poem was written by Val Edwards, a Spiritual Companion who lives in London:

A busy bus at Clapham junction
I shuffle across to allow an elderly gent to sit next to me
London BusHe looks suitably scrubbed for an outing
“Enough room?”
“Fine”
The opener for chat from him
“Turned colder this evening”
“Yes – we’ve been lucky – so mild”
“Got to take care of yourself at my age”
“And at this time of the year”
“I look after my wife – she’s an invalid
And this is not a good time for us”
“Nor for me – my husband died at Christmas”
“My boy died – he was only forty – I’m 83″
On this short journey tears are already there – tucked in the corner
Of an eye
“My boy was stabbed – here”
He gestures to the heart
“Lived three years but then ………”
A pause
“That’s Battersea town hall – met my wife there at a dance
Married sixty-three years. She was fifteen
You left school at fourteen in them days
I was in the army
Waited for me she did
Every Friday I go for a drink with the lads
Same lads – less of ’em
Don’t do the drinking all evening now – but I
Can still manage a pint”
He grins
“I was never a dancer – boxer – yes – but always the last waltz
The missus doesn’t mind – meet early – home by half past seven”
“You must value them – the friends who are left”
“Not half – our Friday”
“Some things are worth hanging on to”
“Hasn’t everything changed so much?
You a Londoner?”
“Yes ”
“What do you make of it now?”
We are passing an interminable stretch of new high rise .
“Lived through the war as a youngster” he adds
“All them little terraces replaced – high rise blocks
Come the sixties they’re talking about ‘disaffected’ youth and
No sense of community”
“And now they are building more of the same”
I reach for the bell
“You gotta get off now?”
“My stop – yes”

“I am so glad I met you” he adds as he stands to let me pass
“I think you understand. Happy Christmas”
“And New Year”

[Written by Val Edwards, Spiritual Companion.]