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Walking to Work



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What does it say?  I mean what is it?  It’s white but why’s it there, it doesn’t make any sense, it’s so stretched I have no clue what it is.  If she stopped moving then I might be able to make it out, but then she’d think I’d be sizing her up and not the pattern on the back of her jeans.  Up and down, up and down.  It must be difficult to walk in those shoes, why would you do that, well alright they do look good, but is it worth all the hassle.  I couldn’t even begin to think.

That’s a pretty damn fine sky, unexpected, after all that rain and shitty weather, it’s the autumn and you don’t think it can be warm again, gold fish memory, though it wasn’t really warm this year, no hazy long summer days or slowly cooling nights, air with that scent of sunlight, I’m sure bird song carries more easily on evenings like that.  Global warming, no more seasons, no more autumn, no more unexpected and unlooked for days like this, that’s the point, it makes you joyful because it comes from nowhere, need the contrast to survive, shade and light.  God it’s beautiful, something soft and ill defined about the light, unformed and gentle for it.  Even in this place the smell is full of ending and beginning.  Leaves, falling and burning, but it’s not over, just turning.

Still building, when is it going to finish?  All that scaffolding and motion pleases but ultimately deceives, all those little models of development, the plans with happy people, luscious vegetation and all you get is small windows, tarmac parking spaces and too much concrete.  I suppose they’re keeping the Victorian bit at least.  What would the original builders say, why keep it?  It’s just some crappy shack we stuck up in a hurry.  If they’d had prefabrication would they have used all those bricks?  Does time make utilitarian beautiful?  Today is never as good as yesterday, the rabbit boxes with fake gables and pointless Juliet balconies, Romeo wouldn’t have got very far with a Juliet balcony, sorry what did you say, didn’t catch that, can’t open my window and walk out.  Which way you going, not that way, I’m going that way, make up your mind.  Plastic was invented here, there’s a blue plaque so it must be true.  Here lived me, poet, lover and honest documenter of the lives of ordinary people, would all that fit on a blue plaque?  All dressed up and no place to go, I’ve seen him before, it’s reassuring that we both have a routine where we always cross at the same point more or less each morning.  Nice shoes, where are my suede winkle pickers?  Must be somewhere, didn’t throw them out, unique, can’t get them anymore, Shellys, the old one on the Kings Road, knew the reference and didn’t even have to try them on.  Oh happy days.  Could I still wear them, not with tight trousers like that, then again why not, it would stir things up in the office; I’d look like a chucky two pin plug.  He does have hair, lucky bastard, hard to believe that where there is now desert there was once a luxurious forest.  Must dig out my woolly hat.  Hello, that’s a happy smile, right back at you sister.  What a day and it’s only just begun, who sang that, only just begun.  The Carpenters, of course, the skinny lass, didn’t she have a thing about her brother?  Jesus, watch where you’re going dear, I’m not exactly invisible.  Never wanted to be invisible, flying would be good, though then I’d miss all the excitement of my epic journey to work.  Not too many smokers this morning, am I early?  Normally they’re clogging their arteries; young, fresh, worldly-wise but really no experience, brash, confident and bright as the fluorescent leg warmers they’re all wearing.  Don’t sneer, once you sneer that little bit of kid left inside will pop and you’ll be old; be happy that you were like that once, well not the leg warmers or wanting to be a hairdresser.  Why be scared of them, really don’t get it, must be jealousy, it’s all there for them, opportunities to be whatever.  The 4 stages of man, when you’re a kid you want to be comforted, as a teenager you want sex, adults want money and know you’re old once you’ve had enough of one and know you’ll never get enough of the other, so all you want to be is comforted again.  Yeah, sweeet as Cartman would say, you will respect my authoritah.  God they’re brazen, stare you down, weighing you up, what do you see, an old guy in a suit? There is something attractive about them, their youth, smooth and untouched, but in ten years it won’t be there.  You want more than innocence, doesn’t stretch very far in the end.  Wonder if they’d do my hair?  Difficult thing cut my hair but don’t talk to me, but silence is too much when someone is that close to you.  Pressure, what to say after you’ve run through the normal stuff?  Where have all the barbers gone, dodgy car magazines, brill-cream, heavy duty electric razors, how do you want it, you can have whatever you want as long as it’s short back and sides.  Almost gladiatorial, you’d be in that big chair and everyone waiting would sit and watch you be cut into the standard template.  Had a board for kids, across the arms of the chair, high up enough to have your hair cut.  Brill cream and Brut for the men that don’t have to try too hard.

Small house squeezed by the tower blocks either side, like that children’s book, Stuart Little, come on that’s strange, but does anyone see it?  Can’t see it because you see it all the time.  Try to see everything as if it’s the first time, but that’s too much effort man, really too much effort, superficial is enough.  Hardcore traffic now, rush hour, ruining the mood, there’s a gap, take the risk they wouldn’t dare run you over.  Double or quits, run but don’t look like you’re running, be cool. Nice bit again, all the Victorian splendour, they were like teenagers, confident, brash, wanted to be noticed, well kids it worked.  I suppose that means we’re in our dotage and can’t seem to do too much right.  One tree, lonely, roots into god knows what. Here before when it was a wooded hill, a cascading view across to the Elizabethan hall and church.  Hard to believe that it hasn’t always been a town, the concrete and bricks, some man-made natural feature weathered and honed by hammer and rain.  Could be, that the tree is the only organic thing I can see.  How long would it have taken to make it, how many man-hours, a lifetime.  Probably a bit too early for that kinda speculation, definitely best left until a second cup of coffee.  Paradise Arcade, there must be a ratio or law, ugliness is inversely proportional to the ethereal quality of the name.  Brutal architecture, what’s the point?  Architecture can be many things but surely never brutal.  Blow it up, find the architect kill him and then kill all the members of his family and all the family pets.  Good morning Vickie, looking particularly pissed off this morning, must be hot in that dress.  Maybe it’s the leaning man, still not used to him I suppose.  Or perhaps it’s the thin bird with the big nose that introduced him to the people of the city.  Last leg, down the hill past the post office and the queue to get in, getting closer now and can hear the confrontational grind of metal on metal above the traffic.  No don’t want a free paper mate, got my book and that’s all I need to keep me awake.  Last moments before the plunge, where’s my pass, go on giver a smile, I know I’m not the first person that flashed their pass at you, but go on, it may be nothing to you but it could mean the world to me.  Always seems I’m heading in the wrong direction, you’re all trying to get out and I’m fighting to get in.  Is this what those salmon feel like trying to fly up those impossible waterfalls?  Coming through, coming through, no you can’t walk through me I’m too real and too mean.  It’s okay, seconds to spare, chill baby chill, I’m there, but feeling sweaty, cool be cool, but never are.  Goodbye sun hello train.

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