our front door yesterday morning. When I answered I found someone we had not seen for a considerable time.
He lives just around the corner from us but our lives do not often cross these days. He used to own a bicycle shop in our local shopping centre. It was on the lower floor along with, oddly, the bookshop, a children's clothing shop and a "beauty parlour" and an underground car park.
I often wondered how any of those places managed to make a living. There was no real indication they were there.
We frequented the bookshop of course. We also visited the bicycle shop. The first time I went was because my then new tricycle needed some adjustment. He did not stock tricycles and I had actually bought it directly from the manufacturer - now, sadly, not there.
I expected to have to leave my vehicle and come back for it later but no, he dropped everything and spent ten or so minutes making the adjustment. He told me, "I know you need your wheels. If you ever need anything done just come straight in and I'll do it immediately."
He did too. I tried not to take advantage of the fact but there were a couple of desperate occasions when he mended a puncture and a broken brake cable. The charge was always minimal. I used to provide extra jars of marmalade and biscuits at Christmas time.
He sold the business and things changed. The new owners did not want to know about tricycles. Racing bikes are more their style. My serious tricycle maintenance is done by a friend of the Senior Cat instead. I am not happy about that but it is that or a much more complicated arrangement.
Yesterday though there was the old owner of the bicycle shop. He was looking a little worried,
"Cat, is your tricycle here?"
"Can you just check? I thought I saw someone riding it."
We checked. It was there. He had seen two boys with a tricycle like mine. He knows them. They are "bits of lads" and he does not altogether trust them. Before he accused them of anything though he was going to check with me.
"I know how much you need your wheels," he told me.
Yes, I do. Without my wheels I could not go far at all. We would not get the shopping done. There would be no visits to the library, going to the Post Office, checking on the elderly along my regular route, going to meetings or any of the other things my tricycle gets used for. When I am without it for a day I feel trapped, as if I am under house arrest.
It was typical of our visitor. If it had been my tricycle the boys had been riding he would have gone to visit them. He would have brought it back. He would have checked it for damage.
We live in suburbia. Some people think they are lucky to know their neighbours in suburbia. I know everyone in our small street. I know almost everyone on my regular routes to the library, shops and railway station. There are a few I do not know by name but we recognise one another.
And I know some people beyond that. People like our visitor who care enough to bother to call in on a Sunday morning. He had not even had breakfast.
I think I might put a jar of marmalade on his doorstep!