I think I mentioned the wonderful and multi-talented lady who I used to befriend within the local branch of the Alzheimer's Society. I remember being at her wake and talking to an elderly man who it turned out lived a few doors away from me.
I remember him rolling his eyes at a comment I made about the lady and thinking 'hmmm' until I quickly realised he wasn't bored - he was fainting! "Please don't die at a funeral," I thought, calling an ambulance while checking he was ok. He went a funny colour but in front of a crowd of concerned funeral-goers, he proved to be ok, although when the paramedics arrived, they took him away in the ambulance.
I went to check on him the next day, and he was much better. Although he then started complaining that because I'd called an ambulance, when the hospital discharged him, he'd had to start off on the 30 mile walk home, before (and here, he pointed at me) and I quote "another coloured person gave me a lift home".
Since then, I've not bothered speaking to him. But it's occurred to me that he is probably quite lonely. He's always alone and lives in a house where the lights are turned off everytime I go by, and in fact when I went to see if he was OK, he was sitting in the dark.
Perhaps when you're on your own a lot, you lose the art of conversation? So mindful of this challenge yesterday, I made a real effort to chat to him when I saw him. He chatted for ages about Wagner and the Ring Cycle and I was pleased to just listen. He did seem cheered and happy to chat.
So the moral of the story is that instead of giving up on people, I'll be there to listen. Thanks again Celestine!