Sticky fingerprints are on every surface in the room including the computer monitor, my magnifier, the walls, the telephone and now me but its not the kid’s fault. We are in the dingiest counselling room in the Citizens Advice Bureau building . It is also the smallest. To be frank it has pretensions to be a stationary cupboard but the charity is desperate for space so somehow someone has squeezed in three chairs and a battered computer desk although the room is too small to actually pull out the keyboard from the sliding drawer. Two adults can barely fit – add a rampaging toddler and things will get sticky.
I slouch homeward and as I walk through the desolate shopping centre I note how people’s eyes slide away from others or rise in challenge and anger. I walk faster and stumble and get my cane out. The sky is low and grey, the light harsh. Crossing the road I feel as if everyone in every car is staring at me People are every where, looking tired, anxious and I am sick of the endless concrete, the smell of piss and old cigarette ash.
At home I look around my flat and make a decision. It is time to move again. I don’t know where and I don’t know how but I know another year here won’t work. Having made the decision I feel better. I take deep breaths and whatever it is gripping my heart lets go. I look down and notice the tiny sets of fingerprints on the knees of my jeans. Two perfect sets, five prints on each knee where the little boy came over and leaned on me, looked up into my face and smiled unaware of the grotty room, the distress of his mother, the tension in my face. I remember the smile now and it makes me grin too. I remember I am an idiot. That all this will pass and that if you look for misery you will find it. Sometimes ones perspective needs a good tweaking by a snotty, banana encrusted three year old.