I had thought about buying another bowl for the boat. At the moment we can’t both eat soup at the same time, nor anything else that requires a bowl, for that matter. I had thought about buying another bowl for the boat but I had thought about many things since walking aimlessly around this store because the heat had made me go insane. I gladly stood still in the milk and cheese aisle for 10 minutes considering my options about a bowl and then bought a cucumber and left.
Heat brings it out of people. Crying (a woman outside the Tube station, into her hands with a friend stooped low to help), fighting (beefcake boys on bikes skidding and smacking), cavorting, frolicking, rollicking, shouting with jubilation at passers-by because they’re happy or sad or mad. It’s a bad rad heat that’s struck London this week. Tubes like slums, pubs like slums, everywhere like slums, with temporary shacks along the pavement springing up comprised of pimms-in-a-can or slimline-gin-and-tonic-in-a-can or something else that clatters. I bought a can of coconut juice which instantly became tepid when I left the coolness of the newsagents.
I don’t hear a thing because I’m miles away sitting on my boat rooftop, my thoughts are like smudges.
‘Excuse me! Hey there miss!’
Oh it’s a child. On a bike. With a friend. What does he want… ‘Yeah?’
‘Do you know where you can buy fishing stuff around here?’
‘Not really.’ I go back to my staring out across water at nothing. But they’re still there waiting expectantly on their tiny bikes. I have no clue how old they are but I don’t think they could mug me because their bikes are so small.
‘I thought because you live on a boat you’d know where to buy the stuff.’
He said “stuff” with this inflection that made it sound like drugs and I’m no dealer, of fishing stuff or any stuff. ‘What sort of stuff?’ I calmly ask because it’s just so very hot.
I feel like we’re going in circles. Then the other one perks up, he’s on the small red bike.
‘Oi, do you reckon there’s fish in here bruv?’
‘Yeah I reckon so.’
‘I saw a massive carp get caught the other day, so sure there’s fish in the canal.’ I’d apparently decided to be part of their conversation.
‘So you do fish!’
‘No. A man was fishing.’
‘Where’s this man then?’
‘I don’t know.’ I stayed still and quiet but they still noticed me and looked in my direction expectantly so I shrugged and pointed and said: ‘He went that way’.
And with that they left.
I heard a crash of breaking glass hitting pavement, a roar of applause and some ensuing argument or other dissipating from the pub in the opposite direction to where the two boys headed. They hadn’t caused the commotion but the sounds of laughter and braying of men and women wafted over the river for eternity in this heat. I bet they’re cycling extravagantly towards Mile End.