Stream of Consciousness in the River of Time
Casting my net in the street, I first spotted a clan of pavement blockers. These are people who spread themselves across the public path as though they have recently bought it, and everybody else is trespassing. A concert of inhuman eyes survey interlopers as if the collective gaze will teleport transgressors into the gutter. Even one or two lifelong practitioners of this dark art can easily oust old ladies into the road by widening their arms and lengthening their dog leads to the maximum.
Today there were plenty of dogs about, taking their well trained pets for a walk. Also, several men in puffer jackets and summer shorts, the odd contrast making them look as though they were made up of two different Playmobil sets. The tearoom beckoned, and so I went in.
It was initially quiet and I enjoyed the precise ritual of coffee mixing almost as if it were a meditation, a la oriental tea making. A foolish thought, of course, because almost immediately the door opened allowing two large groups of talking heads to bookend me. This was discussion dystopia at its worst, with everyone talking at once, nobody actually listening and the volume increasing like a vast bank of Marshall speakers cranked up on heavy metal overdrive.
But then the howling coffee machine joined in too.
Most rational people would probably wait until this helicopter landed before continuing their conversation, but the talking heads were dyed in the wool veterans. As if achieving the impossible was an everyday event, they simply changed gear to an even greater pitch of ear splitting bedlam.
I sat in the middle with a roaring army on either side and an elephant playing it's brass tuba behind me. The milk had curdled, and off I went too.
The supermarket was a lot quieter, yet I was quickly reminded how many old blokes once played rugby for England. This chap was blocking the aisle brilliantly, extending his limbs from one side to other, his body crouched and ready to bar any attempt to pass him. A subtle vacillation from side to side was being used to lure the opponent into an unwise, committed movement. Any such attempt would be neutralised by a lightning quick heel or elbow to vulnerable areas.
And so I cleverly feinted to the rear. His leg darted back to trip me, but by this time I had launched myself through a narrow gap in front. Success! Freedom to shop!
"You young bastard! " he shrieked.
I'm 70 next birthday.
Maybe I should play for England too...