Most of the older people I know are desperately anxious not to be seen in a wheelchair, however frail they are. I’m not too sure why, if it made the difference between getting out and about or being housebound, or being exhausted by walking a few yards instead of sailing along in comfort and earning my keep by having all the shopping bags hung about me rather than the person with me having to carry them as well as care for me, I really think I’d be quite up for it. Maybe that’s easy to say now, when I’m not quite old yet, although I have been in the position of using a walking stick and being grateful for help – and sometimes finding myself in tears because of the unexpected kindness of strangers.
Unexpected, but also quite predictable, I found. So many occasions – I never had to carry my heavy suitcase, nor stand on a London bus. My face is quite anxious in repose, I am told, and I suppose I show tiredness quickly (that I am in the way of grinning scarily most of the time is because I’ve been asked so often why I’m worried, when I was just not smiling), so maybe I worried people … anyway, I was humbled but never humiliated by being helped and looking vulnerable.