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It was a warm day, the room was a bit stuffy and the lights were dimmed so we could see the screen properly. We weren't surprised, then, when an elderly lady a couple of rows in front of us appeared to nod off about halfway through. She leaned on the shoulder of the woman to her left, who pushed her back over to the right, where she rested on the shoulder of a man. This couple were definitely with the old lady, perhaps her son and daughter-in-law.
Anyway, the old lady slumped right down in her seat and the man tried to rouse her by shaking her arm. Then he put his hand around the back of her neck and hoicked her upright, rather like a cat might gather up a kitten. The lady stayed in place for a few seconds, but then slumped back on to his shoulder. This made us smile at first; but then we started to wonder if perhaps something was amiss - and yet neither of the 'chaperones' seemed unduly concerned and kept their attention on the speaker.
It was only at the end, when the lights came back on, that it became clear the lady was not asleep. At best she had passed out. (Mr T assures me she was still breathing, but I'm not convinced.) Very discreetly, gallery staff asked us to clear the room as the lady was moved to the floor. As we left, an ambulance could be heard on its way.
I learned later that the lady's husband has died a couple of months ago, so she probably wasn't at her best anyway. I wondered about the conversation that might have taken place before she set off on what might well have been her last trip out. Did she want to go to the talk? Did she feel unwell at home, but didn't want to say for fear of upsetting her well-meaning family? Did she realise she was drifting while she sat listening to the talk?
What really bothers me, though, is why the man didn't realise that she wasn't just asleep.