Random moments

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.

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I'm Andy Darley. Sometimes I want to say things. This is where I do it.