Thursday, 30 October 2008

The Streets


There is an element of the streets that I quite like, watching the passings-by and the hither and thither, so I do like sitting alone at a pavement cafe. There is a sub-text to the street if you watch it for long enough and patterns begin to emerge - a whole dynamic of relationships and territories which aren't evident at first glance.

Generally, being a creature of habit, I visit Waitrose on a Sunday for the shopping. If I go for a swim (one length for each year I've managed to drag my carcass through this living toil) I tend to arrive around midday or a little later. Other Sundays, when I don't swim, I might arrive a little earlier. Regardless, when I leave the store and head around the corner to catch the bus home, there is always a geezer standing in the little sheltered area overlooking the cordials (which is also the staff entrance) no matter what the weather. I'm fairly sure that I played pool with him once, but I'm not sure where. My feeling was that it was in Tottenham, but (apart from that possible pool game) I've never seen him anywhere other than in this doorway near the bus stop. He doesn't drink, but will smoke the occasional cigarette, and stands in the doorway watching the traffic - human and vehicular - pass by for hours on end. He wears jewellery and dresses relatively smartly, and a lot of people seem to know him, stopping to pass the time of day with him. The other day, in the pissing rain, I caught him at the end of his shift, poking his head, in a hood, out of the doorway before walking off to who knew where.

I just can't work out why he chooses to stand at this place once a week. In fact, I don't know if he stands there at other times when I'm not around.

At the risk of getting all Ralph McTell on you, there is another old dear who chooses to frequent the roadside. Though I don't think she would be classed as homeless in the conventional sense, she is in her sixties I would guess, maybe older. She frequents one of those green telecom boxes outside the bookies down the road from where I live, leaning over it and rolling cigs from a tin. Her hair is matted on her head, and whether she is wearing a traditional granny dress or a jumper, there are always smears of what appear to be a mixture of food, snuff and catarrh down the front. Thick grime is in evidence at every visible point of her body. Thankfully, such points are few. As far as I can tell, she doesn't drink either, and obviously has some form of accommodation to return to at the end of the day. As with the bus stop man, plenty of people seem to know her and talk to her, though she looks at me like some sort of feral beast and I wouldn't dream of broaching a conversation with her.

Then there's the Jamaican guy. He has a territory beneath a tree where he stands and drinks cans of Holsten Pils before popping back into the betting shop. Any time of day - within reason - you'll find him skulking beneath this tree or making his way into Ladbrokes. I saw him with a woman once, and I think I know why he prefers to stand under a tree all day.

1 comment:

marie said...

stand long enough, and you'll see me me, streching my old body- countless years of countless lenghths of swimmimming-pool- to you, for a toothless kiss or a butt end.