Saturday, 12 July 2008

Brief Moments

Foolishly tried to get into town and back by noon. I failed miserably. Among other things, I was delayed by a hopping optician who had broken his foot after missing his step. He didn’t seem too happy when I suggested that he needed glasses. I was also busy trying to get a look at Katie Price’s newest book without being obvious about it. In the end, I only managed to sneak a peek at a couple of pages but I was impressed by everything I read. You really can’t beat prose written by a woman with large plastic breasts. It’s where I always feel rather let down by Virginia Woolf and George Elliot.

I also spent too long trying to match the faces of the staff in Waterstone’s to the pictures on the shelf of ‘Staff Recommendations’. I was particularly keen to have it out with the young bluffer with the hair like a bryllcreamed caterpillar who suggests that I try Thomas Pynchon’s ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’.

After Waterstone’s, I then visited Borders where I had it out with the young Scouse shop assistant who stopped me to ask if I was okay.

‘Okay? Of course I’m okay,’ I said.

‘Only you looked puzzled.’

‘Argh!’ I scream. ‘Won’t you people leave me alone? I spend most of my life in bookshops. It’s the only place where I’m truly happy. I’m just miles away, blissfully thinking about what to buy...’

‘Oh, I thought you didn’t know what you wanted.’

‘Of course I don’t know what I want,’ I snapped. ‘It’s called browsing for books, you fool. I’m trying to remember what I’ve read, what people have recommended that I read, and a thousand other things that lead me to buy a book. I just want to be left alone to browse.’

I then had to spend another hour browsing, just to make my point and then left without buying anything, also to make my point.

At three o’clock, I climb on a train. A guy is sitting across the aisle from me and on his small fold down table, he has three empty whisky miniatures, a can of lager and dozens of empty wrappers from Opal Fruits. Only they’re not called Opal Fruits any more. I think they’re called Starburst.

As I settle myself, he gets out his mobile phone, dials and starts to speak. He’s clearly in the land of the happy pixies where words come with extra slur.

‘Hello luv. I’m nearly there,’ he said. ‘No, no. Ten minutes. Now, listen.... LISTEN I SAID! Listen, I want you to tell the kids that I’m looking forward to seeing them. Really? She gonna be there? Well tell her I don’t f****** want her there. I can f****** well finish her, I can tell you that. Yes well. Just saying is all. I can finish her. Listen, got some cash for the kids. You tell them I’ll be there soon and I got money for ’em. Be there soon.’

He hangs up and I imagine that somewhere just outside London is a woman who turns to her kids.

‘Good news,’ she says. ‘Your father’s nearly here and he’s got some money for you. But I have to warn you now. He’s been on the Opal Fruits all afternoon.’


Anonymous said...

ah, public transport, the enforced proximity to one's fellow man...

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