The Old Testament is full of Angels, materialising often as fairly ordinary people, which leads one to wonder how many ‘ordinary’ people are nudged by angels to do or say extra-ordinary things. There have been times when I’ve been in real trouble, and on each occasion someone has come along. Chance is a fine thing.
I had a train ticket from Algeciras to Bilbao and some money, but not enough for the ferry back home. Certainly no money to eat or drink.
I can’t remember how the conversation began, or who initiated it. I can vaguely remember his face - tanned, dark haired and a neatly trimmed moustache – like just about everyone in Spain at that time, though not the women. I also seem to remember he was a trainee hotel manager, based in the Madeira or the Canary Islands. So not a real, bona fide angel then, but had I been lost in the desert three thousand years ago I might have been convinced.
He was with a group of friends. Hell, for all I knew I might have fallen in with a convention of angels. They pooled their money, and made sure I ate and drank throughout the long and tortuous journey. It didn’t stop there. On reaching Bilbao they took me to the port where we discovered the next boat was in two days time. Where was I to sleep – eat – how make up the shortfall needed to purchase a ticket home?
Bilbao then was not a pleasant city at night, not if you had no money and it was raining. One of them remembered a distant relative and we trooped through dark and rain-sodden streets, winding our way up never ending steps to a sinister looking tenement. A woman holding a baby opened the door. She listened. Looked briefly sorrowful, and shook her head.
Eventually we found a hostel, and there followed another whip-around, which not only covered the cost but also what I lacked to buy the ferry ticket. There were a few coins left over to buy a bottle of coke and a packet of crisps.
Angels or human kindness, the lesson was indelible.
(Though my children might not believe I survived three days without food)