A Visit to the hairdresser

A gadget was on the street, abandoned by someone who had no love for such things. Electronically, the day began but ended unexpectedly because there was, let's suggest, no interest. A hairdresser arrived at the shop and found people queuing, waiting. But where was the desire? As the street sweepers reached the end of their shift and turned homeward, some people were just waking up. This world is exquisitely so extremely full of difference.

Quietly, as if by suggestion and not by wish, someone who cannot sing to save their life begins to sing. It is during the time of hanging washing out on the line, to catch the few moments of winter sunshine. God redeems vouchers, or promises to do so. And thick pants, they take so much time, don't they, in this weather?

And a long, long walk awaits those who want to go further than their ancestors. If it's as far as you can see, fine. If it's further than anyone can imagine, even finer. If it's off the face of everything, you will be happier than a pug in sunshine. Where the water ends and the water begins is, as if you need telling, where nothing matters any more. Listen, and shadows, even shadows have voices. It is a season of mystery, but rather be there than elsewhere where meaning is so clear you fall asleep with knowing.

At, meanwhile, the hair salon, where Donna is still looking for her scissors and Craig, the new shampoo boy, is checking for one last speck of conditioner in the hair of a girl who thinks of herself, only of herself (assumption) it's coffee time. If Coffee, a girl who thought only of herself (proven) were here now, what would happen? Rhetorical question.

Names mean nothing. Once, and this could not happen long ago in the time of mythology or even before that, before people had the wit to make up stuff and pre-empt the movies, an orchestra was travelling a lonely stony road. The back row of the orchestra, which even in those days consisted mainly of drummers and rarely called upon but nevertheless indispensable percussionists, some of them were eager for haircuts. Hair is important for some people. It's not how you look, it's how you think you look that matters. Such was, in those days and even now, the Wisdom.

And teeth, those shiny things, those false things, they matter too. An age passes and even as we drift beyond ourselves into history some of what we care about will remain. Don't sing if you can't.  Shout if you can. Of the myriad wanderings that will be written about, only a few of them really matter. That walk to the hairdresser was not one of them. And when the boys call out from the shelter to see if you have any money to spare, don't turn around. Or do turn around. It makes no difference to the outcome, to be honest.





The floating ideas are. They simply are


To start with there were the floaters, then there were the sinkers. After that there were those who simply lounged around and watched the show. They swam around before our very eyes, and were the cause of almost as much surprise as dismay. On the days when the electronical engineers filled the lane with their pyrotechnical displays, and the strange shapes of new technologicals were somehow crammed into Victorian boxes, it was somehow fitting that any tensions that arose from this somewhat misaligned meeting of minds should be filmed for posterity. It's a shame it wasn't. It should have been. It's so normal now to be out of tune with one's time that it's become worth examining from the point of view of one who is in tune with their time. Perhaps then everyone would discover something they thought they knew but didn't, or didn't think they did, but do.

As for the sinkers, they were doomed from the start but there was some kind of happiness and satisfaction to be had from the sinking. And anyway, sinking is another form of flying (according to some theorists; cite reference). From atop the newly constructed archetype of our future shopping habitat, one could look down into the pit, and see from a startling perspective the sinkers and, strikingly, the floaters, too.

Both form a kind of vitiating filter through which all else is viewed, which brings to the fore the subject of spectacles. In these days of endless narrative and constantly shifting points of view, it's good to stand in front of something (or on top of, or beneath, or even next to) and not move, and to straightforwardly look. The musicians who have just pulled up outside in their van and who are right now lugging their equipment into the hall in readiness for tonight's show will, probably, look different from the back or the side than they do from here in this casement window, but does that in any way change radically who or what they are? They are musicians, bogged down with all the usual grievances and torments.

In the 19th century it was common for what had to be said to be concealed beneath ornamental covers, out of sight of polite society. In more recent times, anything goes. And so, as the floaters and the sinkers eventually become one and the same, if one hangs around on the end of a rope for long enough, then too do differences of perspective also merge, and some simply disappear altogether, because they prove, or history has proved them to be, fatuous.

And the charming thing about fatuousity, as is apparent from a vantage point that has recently been accorded overwhelming critical adulation, albeit an adulation not backed up with concrete financial reward, the charming thing is how one's sense of the seriousness of the trivial is confirmed. There goes, look at him! a man who does not care about anything at all.





Shopping on Sundays is a sin


The wind outside the Victoria Centre was cold and cutting. A doubtful character who looked as if he had been raised in the shade was collaring people and asking if they had a spare cigarette. He may have been a writer, and using the cigarette as a metaphor for spare change. It was impossible to tell. The beggars have been cleared off the streets now. Or, at least, they are not allowed to sit down and beg. Now they walk up and down instead. The sky darkened. A surprising flock of owls passed overhead as the clock struck four. Anyone with any sense was in the gun shop.

Fright is not a good expression to wear on your face these days. In Boots, they have a cream on the cosmetics counter that can turn even the slightest expression of fear into the look of a girl just turned twenty and up for anything.  There are always gangs of cleaners in that shop, so well disguised as customers that you can't tell them from the real thing. If the fire alarms go off they know it's a drill.

Last Tuesday was not a good day for anyone. When the beer delivery truck pulled up outside of "The English Duck" it was not a moment too late. The people in the flats opposite were at their windows, lined up like snipers. The rents are cheap and the death rate is quite high. The park, which is only a short walk away as the crow flies, there is a duck pond there, and the local authority guardians of the rolling pastures and public toilets have reported a sudden decrease in the numbers of mallards and Canadian geese. The smell of cooking wafting from the tenements nearby is absolutely mouth-watering.

The taxi cabs line up outside the shopping centre of an afternoon and one cannot help muttering to oneself about the hole in the sky, and harking back to simple times when taxi cabs were made of horses and if you wanted to go anywhere further away than very near you either had to make a huge and long-drawn out fuss and expedition of it, or you simply didn't go. There are men and women who are dead now but when they were alive they never went anywhere at all. Some of those people, just think what they could have done if things had been different.

Time is beyond everything, but it doesn't matter. Ask the owls. Actually, don't ask the owls, because they only come out at night or in the afternoon and, at times, the morning if it's quite dark. Instead, ask yourself a question. Here is one to choose from: if you knew you were going to disappear off the face of the earth pretty soon, and were given a chance to say something but you only had five hundred words in which to say it, what would you say? Alternatively, what are five sevens?





The root cause of the thing itself


If only there had been a railway to the town, but the town moved and the railway had no choice to but to be therefore abandoned. A chunk of wisdom handed across the breakfast counter to a man in a hat too small for his head is worth more pennies than, let's see, a cliff-top cafˇ that's seen better days. Theatres are where people who collect insects look at the insects and give them names.

In part, when men are men and women are, not to put too fine a point on it, men, who can adopt the most fearsome mask, and who can rip off the ears of the boy behind the donkey? There's no answer to such a decisive, or rather divisive, question.

The water is contaminated, but by what or whom remains a mystery the depths of which only detectives can plumb. What was wanted was in the box outside the room, and the slim teenager (it was impossible to tell if he was ten or nineteen) didn't care a jot. When the police examined his CD collection they were appalled by his taste. It was apparent to them all that one of the things they don't teach in the academies these days is good taste. If they did, the kids wouldn't wear those dreadful tops that pretend to be camouflaged but stand out in crowds like vomit on pure white marble, or drag their hair into those shapes their reflections shrink away from.

At the cake store, meanwhile, Mrs Ogden was sifting flour in the bake room and Shirley, the girl who worked with her (mornings only; a student) was sipping from a mug of hot coffee. Neither of them knew that outside the rain had turned to snow. February comes and goes but cakes go on for ever. Shirley had just bought a new cellphone, and wanted to work some overtime. But there is no overtime in the cake trade these days. Everything is in recession.

Suddenly stopped in her tracks, the actress was mad for something fruity. The first time had been the best, but the subsequent occasions were pretty damn good too. Regular attendance at rehearsals was necessary, however, and the great philosophers, the greatest thinkers of all time whose lives are, now, being relived episodically in a diluted form, are at the window, looking in. A part is only a part, and we all play one.

When the curtain at the entrance is pulled back, a pair of eyes peeps around to see what they can see, and a policeman is walking by. His uniform is, today being a special day, made of glass, and this is mistaken by some as a metaphor for his fragility. They're wrong. When he looks into the sky and sees the face of a panting puppy in the cloud formation up there, he knows that, when it comes to vision, law enforcement is the best job in the world.

        © Martin Stannard 2008