Tuesday, August 17th, 2004
Things aren't going so well at the moment, as the hours and the drive are causing me problems, triggering headaches and draining me so that day-to-day life – and writing – are coming excedingly difficult. Nevertheless, here are some random moments from the last few days:
Driving home in the dead of night, doing a steady speed-camera-proof 39, a fox ran out into the road in front of me. A moment's calculation told me it would be across and away before I arrived so I drove on – but then it stopped in the middle of the carriageway, right in my path, and stared into my headlights.
For a moment it stood at bay, like Brave Reynard in some Georgian pastoral oil painting, and I stood on the brakes, intimidated by its poise and bearing and the way it seemed to own the road. Then the moment was broken as the fox turned and fled – a small, frightened animal, still with the healthy well-fed appearance of an inexperienced cub rather than the mangy look that the older, wiser urban foxes soon pick up.
I swept past as it disappeared into the shadows. The world has no room for foxes these days, except at its margins.
– * – * – * –
There are many definitions of happiness, and a person could spend a lifetime trying to discover which of them are true. Here, however, is an unarguable definition of unhappiness.
Visiting the bathroom – urgently – in a supermarket, and when a stall finally comes free finding the person who vacates it is a fat old security guard wearing the sheepish look of a man who knows you really don't want to go where he's just been.
– * – * – * –
I got caught by a squeegy-merchant at Piccadilly Circus – one of the scruffy-looking types who swoop down on cars trapped at the traffic lights, do a rapid clean of their windscreens with grubby grey water, and then look hopefully for payment. In theory I have no problems with paying someone to clean the car, but the important thing as far as I'm concerned is that I want to choose freely whether to have it done or not. I don't want to look up and see a toothy grin and a dirty sponge, then have a split-second to make a decision if I don't want to suddenly be looking at the world through soap suds.
This time I was quick enough to say 'no thanks', but he wasn't deterred. “Go on, mate” he wheedled, and I said “do what you like, you won't get paid – I haven't got any money with me”. I thought that would make him back off, but instead he took it as a green light and started slopping water about. He said to call it a freebie and looked most put out when I yelled at him to clear off. Muttering, he retreated. Half my windscreen was soapy, half wasn't, but what else are windscreen wipers for?
The traffic lights changed, and I was gone.