Wherever I go I tend to notice those people who seem different or who exist a little on the outside of the cultural norm. A few days ago I began to realise there is a little group of people here in Granollers who I consider ‘friends’ although I don’t know them at all
- The little old lady who wheels her shopping trolley in front of her like a battle shield. She talks to herself but also stops to chat with the woman in Carrer Tarafa who has the parrot. There is a luggage label attached to her trolley. It says ‘My name is Isabel and this is my address.’ One day when I was feeling especially alien and alone I followed her a little on her journey through town. She walked in circles and doubled back on herself regularly until at some point she stopped to ferret around in a rubbish container and I walked past and left her in peace.
- There is a large wild man who sells little packets of tissues at the traffic lights on the road to the hospital. He looks like that character in Harry Potter, I can’t remember his name but he is dark and fat and played by the actor who used to be in Softly Softly. Our Granollers wild man is always very polite and I suppose enough people buy his tissues to make it worth his while. I have never ever seen him anywhere else.
- Almost every day I see a man cycling through town who looks very out of place in this centre of conformity. He wears what looks like a woman’s coat which is slightly too small for him leaving his arms sticking out like brittle sticks. He is bald and has earrings and his white jeans are very tight. I often see him in the health food store. If we were in Penzance he wouldn’t look odd but here he is clearly an eccentric. When I asked other people if they knew who he was, no-one even recognised my description. Perhaps he is invisible?
- Someone I almost know because we have spoken and we usually greet each other in passing is the slim woman with pink hair who feeds the local wild cats. I suppose she recognises me because I also look different and usually am accompanied by at least one dog. There are several places she puts down food and water for the urban cats. Since I arrived in Granollers there seem to be fewer cats around in the streets – I wish I thought this was a good thing but I wonder where they have gone.
The last person who I regularly notice and try to smile at is not really an outsider like the others. She wears normal clothes and has a job looking after an old rich man who lives (and perhaps owns) the flats opposite. She is often to be seen in our little square walking his small toy dog. What draws my attention is her totally unsmiling and unhappy face. She appears to be Latin American and I imagine that she feels far from home and family. One day I will work up the courage to speak to her.
All these people give me a feeling that it is difficult to describe. They sort of make me feel at home.