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Monday, 15 July 2013

Eileen



Her speech impediment makes it hard for me to understand her. You have to listen hard. In her late sixties and having spent, many years locked in her own home, away from the frightening outside world. She is now going to shows and taking part in community excursions, making friends. She pointed to a balcony on the second floor of the flats, on it, she grows herbs and flowers and especially strawberries. She loves strawberries. As we pull up to the entrance, she stutters violently and shakes and I hold her hand and ask what is making her so upset. Her neighbours spit on her herbs and strawberries from the next-door balcony, they pour beer and stub cigarettes into her herb pots. Laughing. Shouting. Poking fun at her speech. She hears them from her living room cackling like hyenas. She struggles to tell me she is being bullied. She is looking to move to a chalet type bungalow, small but with a small garden and this lit up her face. I watch her wave the electronic key at the door and it buzzed open. I sit outside, furious, watching and willing the hyenas to come out, Eileen is already on her balcony scanning her little pots and quickly disappears back in again. There is nothing I can do but stare up at the dirty net curtains of the hyena’s lair. I reluctantly leave. I am a working man and have to go to my next fare who is now wondering where I am. I do go back, slow to a crawl, sometimes park and look up. Today everything looks fine. Maybe I’ll pop back tomorrow. Maybe.