There was I, queuing patiently with my basket over my arm with two people ahead of me: a lady who was being served, and a gentleman who was next in line. There was a longish queue behind us and it had taken a few minutes to reach this point, but you know what the Brits are like for queuing: everyone was patiently waiting their turn, either lost in their own thoughts or chatting to their neighbour.
The lady being served finished, and as the man in front of me stepped forward to the till, a woman in her 60s appeared, pushed roughly in front of everyone including me, physically elbowed the man at the till aside, plonked her own basket down beside the checkout and turned her back on us.
The man in front tapped her on the shoulder. "Excuse me," he said. "There is a queue."
She heaved an enormous sigh, the type people do when they are over-exaggerating their frustration. And then she said something I have never heard one human being say to another before: "Do you want my cancer?"
I couldn't believe my ears and neither, apparently, could the man.
"I'm sorry?" he queried, looking confused.
She turned round to face him. "I said," she said huffily, "do you want my cancer?"
He glanced at the young check-out girl, who looked terrified and clearly had no idea what to do.
"Do you mean you have got cancer?" he asked the woman who'd pushed in.
"That's what I said. Do you want it?"
"I'm sorry," he said again, "but are you saying because you have cancer it's ok for you to barge past people who have been waiting and push to the front of the queue?"
Good on him, I thought, even thought I was squirming inside. I'm not sure I would have been brave enough.
"Do you want to feel sick and exhausted all the time?" she demanded. "Do you want to die?"
Oh My God (I thought) this is horrible.
The gent stood his ground, even though it was an impossible situation.
"I am very sorry that you are ill," he told her, "but that is no reason for you to push in and be rude to other people. If you had explained first I'm sure everyone here would gladly have let you go first."
"Well, I'm going first now," she declared, turning her back on us, and gesturing at the terrified checkout girl to get on with it.
The man stood perfectly still, probably, like me, a bit shocked, then shaking his head he turned round and shrugged his shoulders at the rest of us. I smiled and raised my eyebrows in what I hoped was a gesture of support, and we all muttered things like "how extraordinary" and "what a strange way to behave," none of which had any effect on her at all.
Was he wrong? Should he have just stepped aside, let her go first and said nothing? I don't think so. Good Manners Are Important. A civilised society relies on them to work. I would have let her go in front of me gladly had she tapped my arm and said "would you mind terribly if I went first? I've had some medical treatment today and I'm feeling a bit wobbly as a result," but to barge in and then be so rude and to use her cancer to justify treating other people as less important was really shocking to witness. It did occur to me that there may well have been others in that queue who were as unwell, but a thousand times politer. It also occurred (rather uncharitably) that there might well be nothing wrong with her at all.
I think back to the various cancer patients who have come here for healing over the years (and by that stage it's usually either post-cancer recovery, or an hour of peace from a pretty horrible experience) and not one of them has ever been anything other than inspirational. Not one, no matter how sick, has ever complained, or wallowed, or been remotely negative, beyond saying "I have pain here" or "I feel pretty down today, can you help?" and none to them, to my knowledge, has ever used their illness to debase other people.
I felt, once I'd got over the shock, very sorry for this woman. Not because she has cancer- it's a sad fact today that pretty much everyone knows someone who has it or has had it, and while it is a horrible thing to go through, it is not an excuse to make other people feel bad. I felt sorry for her because she treated a whole line of people who would have helped her with such contempt that by the end of it no-one thought well of her, and that is a sad thing. Incidentally, I don't think her behaviour had anything to do with her being ill at all: I think she was just one of life's pushers-in.
I was preoccupied with thinking about this gloomily as I was sitting here typing at the computer when movement outside the window caught my eye. It was a butterfly, a beautiful Speckled Wood, who floated down out of the sky and seemed Very Interested Indeed in the windows.
I got up and went outside and she landed on the bricks just above my head. Watching her I felt all the gloomy thoughts lift and disappear. I was very grateful that she came to visit. So just in case I have made you feel a bit hollow with these tales of miserable gits, here is the butterfly to lift your spirits too, and to prove that there are many more lovely things in the world than horrid ones.
When the BF had gone, I glanced up at the sky and saw this coming towards me...
But after it spat a few cursory drops of rain it moved on elsewhere.
There was rain in larger quantities on Sunday, which clearly brought ants to the surface, as evidenced by this Green Woodpecker who spent ages pecking at them....
He's looking a bit raggedy isn't he? Unlike M's chillies who are looking Very Smart Indeed. I had a quick look in the greenhouse (which is where the unhatched butterfly pupas are over-wintering in case they decide to do something next spring) and thought I'd take a pic to show you. Not sure what variety these are but I know M is Very Pleased With Their Hotness.
Which must mean they virtually blow your head off and leave you considering a visit to the local A&E Dept forthwith. M does not consider a chilli to be worth eating unless it is a painful experience that leaves you with life-threatening dehydration because you've lost half your body's water quota in sweat.
Talking of growing things, the corner of the patio is a small oasis of late summer flowers, with these rather doddery fuchsia's adding a welcome splodge of colour beside the delphs, who were grown from seed a tad late this spring and are only now starting to bloom in that petrolly bluey/ purpley way they have.
I am feeling a teeny weeny bit tired this afternoon. This is, I think, because I ran 2 miles on Saturday, swam 1km yesterday, and swam another 500m this morning (in a different pool with fewer old ladies and more air. There was, however, a man with the strangest swimming style I've ever seen. At first I thought he was drowning and couldn't understand why the lifeguards were standing around looking so unconcerned (especially given that we know how hot under the collar they get about bombing, ducking, running, shouting, kissing and probably, if they were given the choice, swimming). No-one was diving in to save him, but then I realised he was actually making headway of sorts up the pool. If I were to describe his style as doggy paddle meets windmill in a storm, I might be getting somewhere close).
Anyway, that is why I am tired, so before the evening round of supper preparations begin I think I will retrieve the wool from where it's spent the last year (in it's basket under the stairs squashed next to M's beer-making kits, so I really hope it doesn't smell like a brewery or I will Not Be Very Pleased) and all the squares I crocheted two winter's ago (some of which frankly it is stretching credibility to call squares at all as no one but me would recognise them as such, but I don't think there is a word to accurately describe their shape so never mind), and then I'm going to Put My Feet Up on the sofa and try to remember how to crochet.
Frankly, it's Exhausting, all this exercise.
Wishing you all a lovely evening. We are going to watch Vera, recorded from last night. I think Brenda Blethyn is brilliant.