Out and about

retiro park

The Retiro

An elderly man by the side of the main path, leaning on his walking stick and distributing crumbs to a small flock of sparrows. As he scattered the crumbs and the birds hopped closer, he looked like a kind of schoolteacher surrounded by tiny, eager pupils on a daytrip. He hobbled two steps to the left, they followed him, their beaks all pointing up at him. He held the crumbs in his open palm until one of the sparrows flitted up to rest on his wrist and take the food from his hand directly. Soon others followed its example and flew up to his hand and ate from it.  His patience and infinite tenderness with the birds was so touching. It made me want to be him: a gentle, elderly man in a park with time to feed the birds. Watching him was a lesson in time-management and priorities.

As I was leaving the Retiro by the Fallen Angel Gate the other afternoon, a rather portly fifty-something preening himself in the reflective pànel along the side of the door on the tubular portaloo. He was smoothing his grey temples down carefully, ducking and weaving to get a good view, then twirling his hair in his hands to form a perfect pony tail, beneath a pronounced bald patch. Feet in white trainers placed firmly apart, wearing a dark blue tracksuit. Lost to the world, engrossed in his own vanity reflected back at him by a plastic public toilet.

One Response to “Out and about”

  1. Congratulations in comparison with the man you made the portable toilet sound good! Your description made my skin crawl. Nice one.

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