I got my teeth cleaned and scraped today. They feel quite nice, though it hurt in the chair. I walked to the dentist because I didn’t know how close it was to my new workplace. A few Saturdays ago I was stuck on a bus, no, I was sat still on the top deck of a bus that was stuck in traffic. Barely moving at all because of sodding road works up ahead on my narrow street. I wasn’t doing anything: being a lemon thinking of nothing, staring out of the window with no thoughts when my phone goes off - with that awful jazz tune I programmed it to play, so that I would answer it faster. The noise was playing loudly and I answered it then a voice on the other end said,
‘Hello Miss blah blah blah this is a courtesy call from your dentist. You haven’t been to the practice in over a year and we’ve been sending you e-mails…’
By the time I hung up I had an appointment booked in for two weeks time, ‘You can cancel within 48 hours notice’ she said. I was still stuck on the bus.
It was too late to cancel because I had forgotten all about it until the day before when they sent me a reminder text, sneaky bastards, so now I was walking towards them from work. Quite pleasant actually. I walked down a nicely paved road that led me from the city, north to town. Near where the Library stands. On the way I saw a greasy spoons, serving hot plates of bacon and beans-on-toast. Pubs being swept out before the evening crowds and a pallid young lad reading a book, with those spectacles on from the thirties. Then I hugged the side of wrought iron railings that enclosed a stucco building, that’s when I saw a goat grazing on the other side of them. Really close too, to pedestrians like me on the pavement, I felt like I was at a farm but I wasn’t, I was in Euston.
I entered a green space, a small park, technically a square because it’s called Brunswick Square. I didn’t take a photo but I should have because the colours were bang-on. Yellow doesn’t do it justice but the leaves on that plane tree, or maples? or whatever they were so yellow, golden, reds, on fire. It looked like pure autumn and pigeons were plump, the air was cold and still, I had more minutes to kill before the dentist because I wasn’t going to be a mug and turn up early, to sit in their disinfected waiting room for ten minutes (and appointments are always late, they aways make you wait, maybe so that the waiting room can live up to its name, think, what if they had named it the on-time room).
So I stood, looking up at a faded sign that had been made to inform passers-by like me about this little square with the grandiose trees. I see the square had been part of the property of the Foundling Hospital, the first ever charity for children. They had wanted to keep an open space for them, as respite from the city, back then in seventeen-hundred-and-so-and-so we were at the outer edges of the city of London. After this it was all fields and common land, until you reached Highgate and other remote villages. So I guess the goat came from those backwater days, when I could bring my goat and untether him to graze on common land, because these lands belonged to me as much as it belonged to anybody else. They should have more goats in London. Bring back the goats. I also learned that one of these plane trees had been here since the beginning of the square, some two-hundred-odd years ago. Impressive that, I think when a tree stands tall during two world wars and sees the decline and fall of empire. One tree, some goats. And that’s all I need to realise a day is worth living.