Thursday, 9 July 2015


A note slipped in her diary whilst she was away in the toilet. 

That was a bold move, Andy thought. That was a bold stupid move. Andy was sat a few tables away from her and he had promised to watch her bags and laptop whilst she ‘nipped to the loo’ as she put it. With no idea of what her name was Andy had formed a relationship of trust with a stranger, something he doesn’t very often have with anybody. His last girlfriend Clarissa was either a control freak or a nervous wreck, flitting between the two so that Andy always felt slightly responsible for their continued state of tension. She’s dating that bikram yoga instructor now so, each to their own he consoled himself.

Whilst peering over the edge of his book at her belongings intently (like a hero) it occurred to Andy that, well, she had been quite attractive really. Kind eyes, bright hair, soft features; he continued to muse contentedly that he was now her watchman, her uncredited protector. 

But then the waiter came and dread filled his feeble fleeting heart.

Alexander the waiter believed in himself and called everyone “darling” in a lovingly sexist way. If a pretty lady entered his establishment and didn’t have the exact change for a mocha he’d do what any self-appreciating male with sexual prowess would do, he’d give her a smile and a wink and let her have the mocha for less. Sure less, not free - he has principles come’ on ladies. Twenty minutes ago, Alexander, was serving the lady with the currently unattended bags and had spotted her feminine waistline and shiny eyes. Now’s his chance. Striding over with purpose to her empty chair Alexander wipes it down with a cloth and slips his phone number in to her closed diary that she left on the table. 

Wide-eyed but with no other external signs of shock Andy awaits with foreboding. A dark cloud emitting drizzle has formed around his head. Clammy.

What if the nice woman who had asked me to watch her bags while she went to the bathroom thinks it’s ME?! And I have somehow broken her trust. I’ll never be asked to be a hero again. I’ll never be considered by her to be an honest trustworthy individual! And when she finds that number she’ll be filled with conceit and probably tut inside her head that all men are pricks and after one thing only. Well I’m not after one thing only! He thought decidedly (although he did quite fancy her but that was besides the point at this minute.)

She came back and Andy had missed his chance to do anything about the note slipped inside her personal private diary, he was livid with himself, all he had to do was take the note out and eat it or something why hadn't he acted fast enough?

‘Thanks’, she said and smiled back at him. 

The waiter behind the counter gave her a wink across the cafe. Andy grabbed his belongings hurriedly scraping them in to his bag before disastrously upturning a saucer filled with the residue of his filter coffee on to his crotch making him exclaim ‘shitheap!’ downwardly into his soul. The woman who was sat cross-legged at her laptop smiled over the edge of her screen in his direction with forgiveness and understanding. ‘Sorry’ muttered Andy and hurriedly dashed out forgetting his book behind, and so clambered back in past the other diners and metallic tables that scraped over the linoleum floor apologising again and again to recover his book and then finally leaving to get the hell out of there. 

Cath turned to the correct page of her diary to check dates and found a slip of paper with a telephone number written across it and a small black scribbled heart in the corner. Written on receipt-paper she thought turning it over in her fingers. The heart looks like something drawn by a pre-schooler. Completely uninterested she ordered another black coffee and went back to checking dates in her diary.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Heatwave and more fish

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. 

‘Excuse me!’

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.

‘Fishing stuff.’

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.