a long time ago, when this blog was shiny and new, i blogged about one of my neighbours. as we were walking down to the shop one day he asked us to get him a lighter and a bottle of whisky.
over time, i got to know him a little better. it was a stroke that put him into the wheelchair. he used to be a runner. being in the chair drove him insane. he was often broke. sometimes i lent him a couple of quid.
(he never remembered to pay me back. i never asked.)
when he saw me out running, he used to tell me to run intervals using the lamp posts as measures. he didn't understand that by that stage i wasn't fit enough for intervals.
i think he just wanted to share his wisdom.
he did a bit better once he got an electric wheelchair. he used to roll round the estate, talking to people. assuming they'd talk back. most people did.
i only knew his name because the woman in the corner shop asked if the order was for him the first time i went in for him.
i haven't seen him in a long time. that's happened before - once i didn't see him for months, turned out he'd been in respite care - but then i noticed that his flat was being ripped apart. the front door and the windows replaced, the walls replastered. i guess i already knew what had happened. but i needed to know for sure.
tonight i asked the woman in the shop what had happened to him. she looked at me, blank, for what felt like years. 'In the wheelchair? He died weeks ago!'
apparently it was his liver. the amount he drank and smoked, i'm not surprised. but then i wouldn't have been surprised if it was another stroke, or a heart attack. he wasn't the healthiest guy around.
but there was no need for the woman in the shop to be so mean about it. if i didn't hear in the shop, how else would i know what had happened?
RIP, wheelchair guy. i'll miss you. i hope you're glad to be out of that chair.