Cards and Communication

A magical sleep on the grounding mat had left Madge with enough energy to spend a day in the garden. It had been magical time because she had the strength and stamina to move around and move some stuff. Old piles of wood, broken chairs, bags of cuttings left behind ages ago were all dragged to the side of the house to be hopefully taken to the tip at the weekend. It was quite incredible what three months of broth and three nights of sleep could muster in a person's energy.

What was also incredible in Madge's view was the way that people made a living for themselves. Small businesses were the essence of the local market hall and Madge had come to know many of the traders well. She had seen the market change over the 40 years that she had known it. As a local child, she had grown up with the Shopping City in the background of her life. It had been new and very swanky when it opened in the early 80s with the late Queen herself coming to open the new shopping arena for north London. It was before Brent Cross had appeared and was very, very exciting.

Now, the centre wasn't quite so swanky. Indeed, it had lost most of its swank and had, like much of the high road itself, lost its glitz. The financial crash of 15 years ago had, over time, left its mark and the lockdowns that came 12 years later and certainly made things harder for everyone to get beyond the basics. Yet still, it had its rhythm and regularity and some of the same shops remained throughout the 40 years. One such shop was the card shop, steady in the corner, selling cards and balloons and bits and pieces for parties for the whole 4 decades.

Madge had a particular fondness for the card shop. It was where her Nan had always gone to buy the cards for the family at Christmas, Easter and birthdays. Also holy communions although that had been less so since they had all grown up. Her nan had loved the shop because it sold good quality cards with “lovely words” and she liked the women who ran it. “They're always so helpful darling. Such lovely girls.” She was right.

They would meet for tea if Nan had come down on a Saturday before bingo to stock up on her cards. Madge figured that this was one of the ways in which her Nan had kept connected over the years. She kept in touch with cards and letters and phone calls and consequently kept the family together and had friendships that spanned decades across many countries.

Now of course, Nan was gone and so too were her friends and this got Madge to thinking about how we are remembered and how much it matters to keep in touch. Modern life didn't allow so much for cards and postage and lengthy letters. Instead, texts and Facebook greetings seemed to suffice and Madge could see the benefit of using less paper but felt the loss of opening an envelope and feeling the warmth of someone making the effort to choose something to send. Another big change.

Yet the card shop still sold its greetings and there was still a steady flow of long time customers and new folk who were searching for ways and words to celebrate that would suit the occasion. In the main, it was about parties now. Parties and balloons and Madge was pleased that the woman who ran the shop had managed to ride the storms and keep the party going. They had become friends over the years and the shop itself had become something of a focal point for her journey's out. As her legs had become less and less able to walk distances of any kind, the shop had become an aim. She couldn't always make it but the days when she did, she would always get an acknowledgement of the effort. Sometimes even a little applause of encouragement as she staggered with her two sticks. Madge was grateful to her friend for the boost.

Today, it was her birthday. She would be away with friends and Madge was pleased for her and hoping she was having a good time. It was beyond Madge's comprehension that anyone could make a living selling cards but her friend worked hard, was deeply creative and understood not just her customers but the area itself. A good sense of humour had likely made it more manageable.

It was a lively, messy, complex area with people from everywhere with all sorts of experiences and issues. Often people seemed rude and /or confused but generally people muddled along and the woman who owned the shop had managed to create a little party haven. Madge hoped she was having the best of times and as she sent out the cosmic hugs, she felt it was likely to be a very good day. It was Friday, the sun was already up and the birds were singing. The crows were still back and forth in their nest and the broth was brewing. Hahalala wishes to the card shop Queen and the rest of her tribe. Madge was feeling the love. Big hugs. xxx