In the weekends I work as a waiter at my café to keep staff costs down. During a particularly quiet time, I took a break and sat down the far end of the bar for a cigarette. An elderly lady walked in and ordered herself a Guinness, and seeing me sitting there alone asked if she could come and talk to me.

She started telling me that it was her birthday today, and she was turning 80. Her family had plans to take her out for dinner, but while she had a moment to herself, she thought she'd pop in for a quick beer, before getting into the rush and hubbub of family whisking her about.

We chatted about the weather, and general chit chat, and she started telling me about her childhood. Reflecting back 60 to 70-odd years to her growing up, parents and marriage.

She was lovely, and chatted away, leaving me little room for anything other than pleasantries and nods as she sipped her beer and related these stories to me.

Her skin was slightly brown, and she told me that her father was Dutch, and her mother a New Zealand Maori. She explained how people would watch her brown mother and white, fair headed father walking hand in hand down the street and remark how "that brown girl shouldn't be with that white man".

In her gentle, proper talk, she told me how she went on to marry a German, fair-headed man, and later found people talking about them in the same way.

She then went quiet for a minute, leaned over close to me and whispered: "That really gets on my tits that kind of shit."

I blinked, taken aback, then burst out laughing. She laughed too as I think she rarely talks this way, but felt comfortable enough in my presence to actually let it out.

After this, she downed the rest of her beer and made for the door. I wished her a fantastic birthday, and went on with my day. In the back of my mind was this feeling that she had finally let out just a mere drop of what she had been living with for 80 years.

Happy Birthday love, and may you live a further 80 years without the closed-minded bigotry you have put up with all this time.

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