I’m a sucker for a compliment, I am. It doesn’t matter if it’s intended or accidental, I will accept it with grace and gratitude - I am shallow like that.
Take the time when I was at the theatre - or maybe the cinema, I can’t quite recall which - and was asked to stand up to let someone move by me at the start of the interval. “Thank you, my lovely,” the fella
said, in a warm Irish brogue which completely charmed me. So much so that I stayed in my seat throughout the interval, waiting for his return when he would thank me for excusing him once again. You will be pleased to hear that I wasn’t disappointed.
Obviously I don’t imagine for a moment that he actually thought I was a Marvel of Loveliness - this was an example of an unintended compliment - but I savoured it nevertheless.
In my defence, I am not taken in by every stray compliment that comes my way, even the few which are (sort of) intended. I still remember as a child of about six years old, the day a rosy-cheeked gypsy traveller woman arrived on our doorstep, beseeching
my mother to buy a sprig of lucky heather. Bending down to my eye level, she stroked my cheek and told me I was beautiful.
I don’t recall whether my dear
mum parted with any spare coins in order to purchase the sprig of lucky heather (I’m not sure we had much cash to splash in those far-off days, even in the hope of having good fortune befall us) but I do remember my mother closing the door on our visitor
and telling me, very seriously, that I should never, ever believe anyone who told me I was beautiful. She was, I realise now, warning me against being taken in by false compliments - but it was a little hard to take at six years old.
I freely admit that I am not without my share of natural vanity. When various family members come together and we all pose for the obligatory “selfie”, I always endeavour
not to be seated at the very front of the group where all my double chins will be on show in the resultant photos. I definitely look better from a distance. Maybe not “lovely” exactly but at least presentable.
Thursday mornings are always a bit of a rush, getting both of us up, washed, dressed and breakfasted before the Dial-a-Ride bus arrives to transport Mr B and me to Sporting Memories. It’s our
weekly gathering at the Worthing Football Club, when we meet up with other sports fanatics and chat about anything and everything. It’s Mr B’s favourite morning - but being all ready to go at 9.30 a.m. can be a trifle stressful.
When our lovely driver arrived this week, ten minutes early, Mr B was not in the best of moods - and it was all my fault. He would, I knew, cheer up the moment he was wheeled through
the open gates of the football club, but all he could think about was that I had been in altogether far too much of a hurry. What made things worse was my complete lack of skill in getting his wheelchair through the living room door and into the hall backwards.
I’ve never been the best at reversing in the car; I’m even worse at reversing while pushing or pulling a large wheelchair, especially with a Precious Person on board. I kid you not, I had to execute the equivalent of four three point turns in order
to make it into the hallway without damage to either the paintwork or (more importantly) Mr B’s feet.
Could he help? the Dial-a-Ride driver asked,
kindly. Mr B told him that I was, in his opinion, beyond help.
“Ah, no,” said the driver, generously: “She’s a legend, she is!”
A legend, no less! Nobody has ever called me legendary before. Mr B looked first at me, then back at our driver, with doubtful eyes. He clearly didn’t believe a word
Me? Well, I’ll take it in the spirit in which it was meant. Legend or not…