This morning, outside my flat, a small dinosaur was having a tantrum. A mouse was carrying a guitar on its back. A superhero was having some sort of wardrobe malfunction fixed by its mum.
I think it's fancy-dress day at Montpelier School :)
As I walked down to the tube, I passed pirates, more superheroes, a cowgirl, and a gratifyingly small number of princesses. Also a tiny Japanese girl wearing a black dress, a massive red bow on top of her head, and carrying a garden broom (I have no idea).
A number of children trailed past wearing the uniform red caps of a different school with a distinct air of martyrdom.
If you have tropical fruit-related breakfast cereal, it's surprisingly nice with coconut water on it in place of milk. I discovered this totally because of my desire to try out new food combinations, and not even slightly because I am the sort of slack person who'd put cereal in a bowl before remembering we forgot to buy milk.
In a crowd on Sunday I was standing near a gentleman in a quite amazingly hi-tech electric wheelchair. It had expanding struts under the seat and (I think - I didn't see it in action) could be raised and lowered. The upshot being that, in a standing crowd, the chap sitting in it was on eye-level with everyone else. I'm lucky enough never to have had to use a wheelchair, but I imagine having your head a couple of feet lower than the people around you could make it hard to stay in a conversation.
A house on the road I walk down to the station had the top of its garden wall painted last week. It was a brilliant, pristine white. Overnight, it was visited by a fox with extremely muddy paws.
Owing to lack of warning signs, there is now a small patch of concrete on Haven Green with the print of my right boot in it. Converse, size 4, if you're curious.
It was a pretty comfy air mattress, and I settled down... and didn't go to sleep. I continued to not-go-to-sleep more or less until it was time to get up again.
( The state of asomnia )
A man crouched beside a green junction box, trying to match the diagram on his clipboard to the wires inside. He was wearing a bright yellow plastic headset, clamped over his black turban.
A man striding quickly up the road, a pink lunch bag in one hand and a huge carrier containing a Playmobil box in the other. A little girl in a pink anorak and a cream party dress ran to keep up with him.
A blonde girl on the train, asleep with her arm curled round her partner and a huge smile on her face.
An immensely cheerful man with gingery hair, fighting with the ticket barriers before declaring "Ah! It's the green arrow that it gives it away."
As I cycled up Whiteknights Road, the rain brought an unexpected waft of wild garlic with it. A police car with blacked-out windows passed me, ferocious barking coming from within.
A guy in his late twenties, striding down the platform, wearing skinny black jeans and a black velvet military-style jacket. He had dyed-black, artfully-messy hair and a general demeanour of hoping you'd mistake him for Russell Brand.
A grey-haired man in a sober suit, dark tie, polished black shoes and sensible anorak. As he crossed one leg over the other, he revealed hot pink stripey socks.
A bulky bloke wearing two incredibly thick, fluffy-looking hoodies. I wanted to hug him to see if he was as cuddly as he looked :)
A girl in her early twenties wearing fantasically high heels, a very tight, short, purple dress and a tiny black jacket. She looked stunning, but when she sat down in Natwest's waiting area she matched the purple chairs exactly.
Last weekend we put up a towel rail. It's directly in front of you as you stand at the sink. Handy, you'd think. Convenient. Easily in reach if you've got wet hands.
Except actually, it isn't convenient at all. Every time I get my hands wet I turn round, walk across the room, realise with vague surprise that the towel isn't there, swear, and walk back to the sink to dry my hands.
Every. Last. Sodding. Time.
Not only am I not a hoopy frood, I don't even know where my towel is.
Unelatedly, where did this Fiction Family album on my shelves come from? I don't remember buying it. I don't know who they are. It's quite pleasant, but it's a total mystery.
I've worked in Reading for well over 10 years, and for most of that time (as far as I've noticed) sunny afternoons have been the preserve of Happy Flying Dude. HFD owns a small, red bi-plane with a very loud engine and when the skies are clear and blue he flings it around in an extravagant series of loops, spins and rolls. Today he must be directly over the building; I can't see him from my desk, although I can hear the rising and falling notes of the engine.
I've never seen HFD in person, of course. He doesn't fly that low over built-up areas. I have no actual evidence that the small, middle-aged man of my imagination, smiling and slightly greying, exists. Perhaps the plane's pilot is female. Perhaps the plane is used by many people from a club. Perhaps the pilot is executing a series of planned and choreographied manoeuvres rather than the carefree playfulness I see.
But in the summer I like to think of HFD, chuckling to himself as he cuts the engine and dives, then spins back up into the sky. In my mind, he's having an awful lot of fun.
( Mine... )
What've you got on yours?
[*] You are almost all wrong about mayonnaise, y'know.
A man in a black shirt and striped tie carefully carrying a large flower arrangement along the platform at Reading station. It was made of pink carnations, and shaped like a crucifix. A small plastic holder held a message card.
A smartly-dressed lady with spirally-curled hair staring at the departure boards. What she saw made her look terribly worried.
A teenaged girl standing on the escalator with her eyes closed. Her bright purple headphones were vibrant against her dyed red-orange hair.
A middle-aged man in beige slacks dancing to The Supremes as he lovingly polished his extremely elderly and decrepit Jaguar.
I was in a hurry putting the recyling out; the bag ripped and threw empty tins and bottles across the floor. I was in a hurry putting the rubbish out, so the binbag refused to come out the bin, and then the back door lock jammed...
Now, on a rational level, I'm quite well aware that being in a hurry makes you more inclined to make these kinds of mistakes. The binbags are made of plastic, are not malicious, and do not exercise free will any more than the laptop did when it sat madly spinning its hard drive and refusing to respond to any input.
( On the other hand... )
The receipt says:
2 Cola Pos WI SmGl 2.90
1 Gue 4.0-4.4 Pt 3.20
1 Gr. Brit Cod+Chi 8.95
1 MD LUN Stk+AlePi 6.99
( Which is impressively impenetrable, I think )
A lady who had balanced a large-format book open on top of a pushchair. From it she was testing the older of the two boys she was hurrying along on spellings of words which end -ble. He wanted them to end -bel and she was clearly frustrated. "Portable?" she asked. "Oh that's definitely one that ends "i - b - e - l", he said. "Port-A-ble" she repeated, crossly.
A butch, bullish, bruiser of a man escorting a little girl to school. He carried a pink Hello Kitty lunch box and flask. She wore a scarlet anorak and purple tights, and was scooting along on a hot pink scooter.
An older gentleman in a smart black suit, riding a bicycle. He disdained the ubiquitous day-glo diddy jacket, and instead wore a neat, luminous yellow Sam Browne.
A grey-haired man in a scruffy, striped polo shirt and ripped jeans, muttering to himself as he walked unsteadily along the pavement reading the Financial Times.
However, I think it's technically against the Royal Mail's own rules. It's hard to tell, because their delivery people constantly ignore the rules anyway. But, in this particular case, I don't mind because I think it's safe enough and it means I don't have to battle my way to the sorting office.
Wednesday's postman clearly felt a little guilty at leaving my parcel on the doormat, so he very carefully made sure ( no one would steal it )
2. When reaching the top of an escalator in a busy place, or passing through a gate such as a railway ticket barrier, do not stop. Not even if you want to read the arrivals board, wait for your friends, etc. Move to the side, then stop. This is particularly true in the escalator case when the people behind you cannot stop even if they wish to.
3. If walking through a slow-moving crowd, do not push the person in front of you. Especially do not repeatedly ram a push chair into their ankles. It will not enable them to go any faster.
Violation of these rules will result in your licence to walk being revoked.
I often wake up, in the night, with dreadful cramp in my legs. This is not pleasant. Some time ago, someone recommended drinking one of those modern-fangled isotonic-flavoured electrolye-ridden buzzword-compliant sports drinks before going to bed.
I bought a drum of lemon-flavoured powder from (I think) Boots and... hey presto! Miracles were worked, and my legs did not tie themselves into excruciating knots in the night.
Enter a second friend, who assured me that the water was the important part and that I was merely paying for the caché of sports drinks unnecessarily. So, this summer (cramp seems to be a summer problem, for me) I stuck to drinking water before bed. Friend2 was wrong. It does not have the same effect.
So, off to Boots I went. And then to Superdrug, Holland & Barrett, Tesco... Nope. No one sells the damn stuff any more. According to Boots' website, they do still sell drums of mixable powder but they now only do orange flavour. Also, I have yet to catch a branch which actually stocks the damn stuff (and the website is out of stock, too).
Can anyone recommend a powdered sports drink which is (a) cheap and (b) available in something non-orange? I only require the re-hydration parts, not the energy parts, since I'll be drinking it before bed. For preference I'd like something available in high street shops, since I don't think my ego will permit me to become the sort of person who orders highly specialised sports beverages off t'internet.
Either that, or I'll just have to settle for squash made up with homebrew ORS. Which might work, but would probably taste nasty.
Gosh, I thought. I'm not sure he should be doing that.
Then I noticed that he had on a fluorescent orange jacket. Like most of the world, I have ( orange jacket syndrome ), so I decided it was probably fine.
Although he did have a bag at his feet, an ordinary, rather 80's-looking, shopper, not the toolbox I might expect from someone fixing an ATM. Which was a bit weird. Maybe he was wise to the game, and was indeed committing crimes in broad daylight and relying on his high-visibility to make sure no one saw him.
As he turned to reach something in his bag, I saw blazoned across the back of his jacket: ATM SANITISER. A what now? Clearly a candidate for B-Ark if ever there was one.
Then I looked at what he was doing, using a piece of stiff plastic to scrape acumulated dust, grease, and fag ash from the corners of the ATM. And I looked at my machine, all sparkly clean. And I got my cash out, and said thank you to him, and went on my way.
That's a job I'd never even realised existed. But I'm really rather glad he's doing it.