23 April 2018

Milestone

On Saturday morning, we visited Westminster Abbey. Afterwards, we strolled to Leicester Square and boarded a tube train on the Piccadilly Line, heading back up to Wood Green where Princess Pudding now lives with her consort. The carriage was pretty full but Shirley managed to bag herself a seat.

If you will pardon the expression, she was sandwiched between two young men. However, almost immediately one of them stood up to offer me his seat. This was a milestone moment in my life for never before have I, as an ageing man of sixty four, been offered a seat by a younger human being. 

The young man noticed my amusement and explained that in his "culture" it was the done thing to show respect for one's elders. A stop later he was able to sit down opposite me and we had a brief conversation.

I asked about his "culture" and he said he was from Senegal. We spoke about the weather there and how hot weather can make one lazy. He said that the best time to visit Senegal was in January and February when most days lacked the oppressive heat people endured in the long tropical summer. He also referred to the difficulties of sleeping in hot, airless rooms without air-conditioning.

What a fine young man he was. Polite and pleasant as his original kind gesture had shown. I shook his hand and wished him well. I guess we had broken the unwritten underground railway code - never converse with strangers. 

No doubt the young man  had come to England to seek a better future and despite the fact that he made me feel like an old fart when he offered me his seat, I still hope that he finds that better future and avoids being crushed by disillusionment and dead ends.

By the way, Senegal is situated on the west coast of North Africa. It has a population of some 15 million people with its capital city being Dakar. Once part of the French Empire, 92% of Senegal's people follow Islam. God knows why. Here is the translated first verse of the Senegalese national anthem:-
Sound, all of you, your Koras, 
Beat the drums, 
The red lion has roared,
The tamer of the bush with one leap has rushed forward
Scattering the gloom.
Light on our terrors,
Light on our hopes.
Arise, brothers, behold united Africa!
The flag of Senegal

30 comments:

  1. It's a long time since I have caught a train but my kids assure me that it doesn't matter who gets on: ancient, disabled, heavily pregnant or visibly limping, nobody lifts their eyes from their phones so no seats need to be offered.

    I'm glad you broke the tube code, obviously you are both extraordinary gentlemen

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    1. Sometimes I am not a gentleman Kylie, I am a pig.

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  2. How refreshing it is to hear of the good-mannered, thoughtful gesture given to you by that fine young man.

    It's nice to know that there are still some who show respect to others, regardless of age. I hope his path in life treats him with equal kindness and respect as that he showed you.

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    1. We are on the same wavelength Lee.

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  3. It's a bit like when Tom was in Hospital, all of the staff were teenagers, even the consultants. lol
    That's when you know you're getting old.
    My Dad always used to complain about the policemen that looked like young boys.
    Briony
    x

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    1. As the cast sing in "The Lion King", "It's the circle of life..."

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  4. What strange words for a national anthem. I may have to poke around (translation: google) for more information on the subject.

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    1. I understand that Mr D. Trump is thinking of adopting the Senegalese national anthem with some slight changes to create a new American national anthem titled "Make America Great Again".

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  5. I think that the place where I have encountered the most polite of people in general is Hong Kong.

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    1. The most polite people I ever came across in my world travels reside back here in Yorkshire. They are also the kindest, the most intelligent and the most creative.

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  6. I have frequent social contact with both Mexican and Ukranian immigrants whose children and family life, in general, are admirable. When you enter their houses, everyone comes up and either hugs you or shakes your hand. If they're at your house, they go around and introduce themselves to everyone, and when they leave they go around and say goodbye to everyone individually. The older children play with and take care of their younger siblings. Compare this to families whose children you haven't seen since they were 10. They stay in their rooms, plugged into their electronics, and only come out, even when there's company, to demand food, or to snatch their Christmas or birthday present.

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    1. I have come across that last scenario - even with my sister-in-law's two sons. Good manners and the cherishing of family, friends and relations are healthy traits that some incomers from foreign shores display more readily.

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  7. Sometimes people are afraid to give up their seat to another person in case the person they are offering the seat to may get offended. It happens to me - an elderly lady refused my seat, adding she was not old!
    I wish the young man a good life.
    Greetings Maria x

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    1. It is rude to refuse a gift - even if it is just a seat on public transport. You should have said to the old lady, "Well you look old to me!"

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  8. When we travelled by bus in Sydney people were always offering me a seat, probably because I was having problems staying upright everytime the bus moved. I was very grateful but it did make me feel very old!

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    1. You must have supped a lot of Australian wine before climbing on the Sydney buses.

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    2. I broke 3 ribs when a Sydney bus did an emergency stop.

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    3. An emergency stop? Is that a stop that creates emergencies?

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  9. It is always good to hear that polite manners still exist. I hope that young man finds a happy and successful life. I have been offered a seat several times when waiting for a table at restuarants. However, I find that happens more in some locations than others which is a bit sad.

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    1. An act of kindness can brighten one's day.

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  10. You are not old, Mr. Pudding. But, don't you wish that such manners were taught in the more affluent homes of your country and, especially, mine?
    And, I wonder what a united Africa would look like?
    As is said by the followers of Islam, "There is no God but God."

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    1. No God but God... though Bob Dylan comes close. My own children are very courteous as I am sure your princess and prince are. It's about teaching children that other people matter and this teaching is most effective if modelled by parents. Deeds not words.

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  11. I notice that you took the seat, in spite of your amusement!

    It's a sign of the times, I think, that politeness and respect are novelties. Not a good sign, either. I hope that young man came away from your exchange with renewed faith in his fellow Earthlings.

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    1. I felt it was important to talk with him and I feel sure that he was lifted by this.

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  12. We learn so much when we associate with others from another culture.

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    1. I am sure that you learnt a tremendous amount through marrying a Yorkshire lass.

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  13. Good manners and kind gestures can invariably lead to interesting exchanges, as you discovered. Nice to break those Tube Traditions and I'm sure the young man took away more from the conversation than you did. His national anthem is so African in flavour!

    Of the countries I've visited the most inclusive would be Brazil - there is no such thing as the segregation of ages in sociable situations, even in nightclubs!

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    1. At first the young Senegalese man seemed surprised that my wife, daughter and I were chuckling about his kind gesture. I needed to ease his confusion and explain that this was a seminal moment for me.

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  14. On one trip to London I was offered a seat three times !! It made me realise that I don't look as young as I think do. My dyed hair and nimble feet obviously don't fool everyone! Needless to say I accepted gracefully. However, there was another previous journey from here ( Harpenden....25 min on train) multiple tubes and back again when I only sat down for the last 5 minutes from St. Albans !

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    1. It's nice to have a seat on a train - be it a tube train or a regular overground train. If I saw you standing on a train, I would offer you my lap Frances!

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