I watched a boy leaning on a tree vomiting this lunchtime. I was out for ‘a run’ with the dog. The truth is I’ve not ‘run’ anywhere for eighteen months, although in order to avoid being one of the hordes of New Year Resolutionists I had a tentative trot out a couple of times last week just to check everything sort of worked. (The jury is out on that one.)
Anyway, at first I thought the boy was older than he was, probably in the grip of a hangover. As I got closer I saw he was no more than twelve, maybe younger. He had got out of a silver car, parked on the wrong side of the road. A man, probably his father, was in the driver’s seat, his elbow sticking out of the fully open car window, the engine running. Car sickness probably. Football fans perhaps – the Shrimpers were having an early kick-off.
That, I thought to myself as I passed the poor kid, is the difference between a father and a mother. The mother would be out with the kid, by the tree, as useless as the father still sitting in the car, engine running, but she would be there. Then I carried on and thought I might die myself in the far muddy corner of the park as my lungs threatened to explode. My life is not glamorous, my trainers are covered in an inch of mud at all times and when I ‘run’ I can’t always breathe. Still, I hope I would get out of the car if my child was throwing up by a tree. It would make no difference of course, but one can’t, always. I am reminded of the quote from Lady Windermere’s Fan by Oscar Wilde which said, ‘We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.’ The gutter doesn’t change but the stars do. At the moment my stars are a bit hazy, like this one.
I was out in the general murk this morning with the dog and on the way back I was aware it felt like the sun was trying to make an appearance. I thought I might try and photograph a proliferation of green plant psychedelia on the verge, but when I crossed the road I noticed the sun shining, at my feet.
It hadn’t broken through the clouds, but somehow its reflection in the huge puddles on the road magnified its rays. It faded nearly as abruptly as it had appeared but that didn’t stop the dog and I, dodging the traffic as it barrelled round the blind bend, from trying to catch a few rays to share on here.
It’s like I’m trying to spite Oscar Wilde who said, ‘We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.’ This is more like, I am in the gutter and I find all kinds of cosmic entities right there, thank you very much….
Unlike BBC Radio 4 I would definitely end a major series on a Monday. It’s been a bit trying, perhaps painful in the case of the needle, confronting the disarray of my luggage. I’ve likened myself to a disenchanted mule and tried to blame the global capitalist society for my mess making ways. But now all that has to come to an end as the bag is a little lighter, a little tidier and good for at least another year of abuse before I consider a new one.
Before we come to the final item I thought I would, for the sake of truth and integrity, just do an inventory of the remaining items. It seems right, and it fills a few lines on a rainy Monday morning.
- Paracetamol, Alka-Seltzer and Migraleve – my friend says the latter is just expensive, pink co-codamol so expect that to join the pharmaceuticals in my bag tout suite.
- A magnifying heart mirror that fell out of a heart-shaped compact more than a year ago. Perhaps it’s time for that to come out.
- A metal credit card case that a student gave me. Shame it didn’t have a pre-paid Visa in it too. Decorated with Shakespeare.
- A Diet Aid essential roller ball. I don’t diet but I do roller ball. It is purported to “help diet focus”. As I don’t have such a focus I don’t know what it does for me, but I like the smell.
- A black balloon with my college’s logo on. You never know when you need one to give a kid.
- Various ironmongery: two pairs of scissors – don’t ask – a kirby grip, two more needles, one nail and one very nice coiled spring approx 2 cm long.
- Two plastic boxes for memory cards – I can’t remember where the memory cards are
- A lanyard with three stars on it “Improving strongly in Southend” – I wear the non-branded one thanks very much.
- A 20p, a 5p and countless 1ps
- A homeopath’s appointment card dated 07/04/08
- Old rail tickets to Devon
- 5 pen lids (no pens)
- Tiny bits of foil
- Sand and fluff