Rocking up at James Paget hospital, Great Yarmouth feels like landing on a different planet. Out of the computer world of Planning Applications, out of the kindness of Kinda Forest School, out of the safe market town of Halesworth, out of the old girl network of my convent school emails, out of dog walking along the Blyth river, out of easy friendly drinking at the Star at Wenhaston, where I am recognised, Hello Rachel, out of my wood and the bursting green of Hornbeam, I roll up at the car park of James Paget, easily find a space (unlike Norwich), close the car door, and check: I’d better lock.
Around me are Martians. People struggling with wheel chairs of the Victorian vintage, to manoever across a 1980’s road structures, tattered temporary now permanent barricades, to an out of fashion square lashed building, next door to Accident and Emergency. An ambulance man inside his chariot signals to me to cross the zebra crossing. Pragmatic. A gaggle of people smoking, furtively. Old people, so many old people, being held together, empty eyes as they struggle to move to more pain. I check myself: I am here to find an old person, but of course he is not old like this, old beyond repair, being patched up old, but my friend, my familiar travelling companion, Michael, definitely not an old man. And he proves it as soon as he gets in the car, dogs licking his ears.
‘Let’s go back the way I know’, he says.
North? I question skeptically checking the sat nav,
Yes, it’s the way I know as its the way to the crematorium. I know most of suffolk short cuts through Cremetorium routes.
You know what, it was the most glorious route. Not only no traffic jam at Oulton Broad, but it took us through empty roads, over marshland, with cows and horses in emergying green pasture, even passed one of the homes I never bought along Herringfleet Road, and so i wondered how they were doing living in Latvia or was it Lithuania, those fine and beautiful people, and their house would would have been fine to live in, but had I bought it I would not be in a Fiat 500 with this remarkable man who knew all the best roads of Suffolk.
Once again, I take my hat off to Michael, this gentle man, with a very fine nose.