The man on the train
'You asked me that.' said the silver-haired man sitting opposite him. 'I've told you. You tell me.'
Andy, it transpired, lived in a care home. He carried his belongings in a black plastic bag - a dustbin liner - and he was going to the same town as me.
As the train drew into the station I told Andy that he could come along with me. But the silver-haired man helped him to the door and just before the train stopped slipped him a ten pound note. I hung my head, hoped no one would notice me and blinked to make the world become clear again. Sometimes kindness from a stranger is so poignant it smarts.
On the platform Andy slipped his arm through mine and said that he loved me and we lurched along, a four-legged unsteady animal, dragging my bag and his, into the lift and then across the bridge.
On the next platform Andy produced a pouch of tobacco and a packet of Rizzlas and begged a man to roll up a cigarette. On the next train he begged for another roll-up even though he hadn't smoked the first and after a long conversation he abandoned me and his plastic bag to sit in the toilet compartment. He was still there when the train stopped at his destination. By this time I felt partly responsible for him so I told the guard there was someone who needed help to leave the train. And that was how I left him. I am still wondering if he was persuaded off the train or if the guards gave up and let him stay, and he still travelling somewhere on a train with no intention of ever arriving anywhere.