It was 9.30am at the Salvos op-shop in Lutwyche where I was looking for dog blankets. I was nursing a cup of tea and being flattered outrageously, both courtesy of a small Welshman sporting a striped cap.
Bryan told me many things about himself and because he’s “very psychic”, some about me as well. And when I told him where to find his misplaced cup of tea, he was almost in raptures over my cleverness. Some people love to talk in the mornings.
We went out to enjoy the patch of sun next to the adult shop and I heard the story about the New Zealand horse. He bought it for his children, maybe fifteen years ago. Clever thing, he said, she knocked me off by bolting toward a tree branch, and I landed on the only brick in the paddock. I could barely breathe. I had five cracked ribs but I was lucky.
Bryan is seventy-four and a regular volunteer at the shop. He told me about his children, a daughter who’d been a singer with bands, and his “tone-deaf” son. How does that happen, he wanted to know. His daughter died two years ago from cancer.
Then he told me about the telephonist from the Manly Classifieds. Twenty years ago he’d persuaded her to meet him at the Stein Hotel, at 3pm on a Sunday. They were going to discuss her typing his manuscript. Instead they went on to the bowling club for dinner then “danced their legs off” before going back to his place, without even looking at the book. He fell in love with her and she was his second wife for just 24 months. A very sad story, said Bryan.
He offered to show me on his new iphone exactly where in the south of Wales is his hometown of Llanelli. You pronounce those last ells with an ess.