The Bum on the Sidewalk

She wasn’t really a bum.

She had a name.

Lauren.

She had a face too

but she asked me not to

photograph it.

But what really attracted her to me

was she was reading a book.

You don’t really associate street people

with reading.

And it was a big book.

Like a Russian novel.

Dostoevsky or Tolstoy maybe.

But it was a home grown novelist.

Bryce Courtenay

a true story about a girl called Jessica.

She was on page 237 and she was only halfway

into it.

We talked briefly.

I put some coins in her cap and left her to it

on the cold sidewalk.

I would like to have known her story

but you can’t be intrusive.

One little Letter, one HUGE difference

Bev put on a Golden Oldies disc

when Hippy Hippy Shake

jumped out of the player.

Chad Romero, I said.

Who?

Chad Romero, the singer. How good is my memory?

When she went into the shower, I sneaked a look at the CD cover

to make sure I’d got it right.

Huh? Swinging Blue Jeans, it said.

That’s funny, I thought, I’m sure it was Chad Romero.

So I Googled the name.

My heart sank.

‘Chad went home to be with the Lord,’ the Obituary began, ‘on April 23rd, 2017.’

Bullshit, I said. Chad was a hell-raiser. He wouldn’t have gone meekly as that.

There was no mention of his singing career.

So I Googled ‘Hippy Hippy Shake’ and there he was : CHAN ROMERO.Singer, composer, lyricist.

The full package.

And he’s still alive. Still rocking.

Sometimes one little letter can make a HUGE difference.

The Bush Smiled Smugly.

Because I did not have a name for it, I referred to it disrespectfully

as ‘The Beast’, ‘It’. ‘The Monster Devouring the Yard’

‘The Putin of Bushes’.

I fought it, slashed it, pruned it, tried to wrestle it

to the ground. It was defiant as The Terminator.

I phoned gardeners, Jim’s Mowing.

Send us photos they said. I did.

I could almost see them recoil in horror.

None phoned back, sent a text message.

The bush smiled smugly.

Then I phoned the Strata Title Management in desperation

and they sent me their contractor.

‘Looks like Japanese Honeysuckle, ‘ he said. ‘I can do this’.

He quoted a cash figure I was quite prepared for and an hour later

it had a neat little trim.

It’s own mother would be proud of it, he smiled.

I’ll be back in twelve weeks. You’ll probably need me.

Parable of the Breathing Tube

“You won’t even know it’s there,” said the surgeon.

          “My brother-in-law sure did,” I replied referring to the incident in the ICU which I witnessed.

          AS he was coming out of his sleep, he became aware of the tube down his throat and began struggling with it so violently that he had to be held down by three nurses while he was put into an induced coma. He stayed that way for three days.

          “You won’t even be aware of it,” the surgeon said, “and if you are you won’t remember.”

          I decided to go with that. In the end you have to put your faith in something.

          Still, some days later as I was wheeled into the operating theatre, the last conscious thought was of that tube down my throat.

          Many hours later as I slowly awoke, I remember the doctor saying, “the breathing tube is out now, you can speak.”

          “What breathing tube?” I asked.

          The thing is, if you don’t know something has happened to you, has it really happened?

Furrow in the Head

I drove past the Snack Bar the other day where twenty years before I came across the boy with the furrow in his head.

He was in his early teens, with a patch over one eye and did not speak. His mate, a little older. spoke for him. They left with a few cans of coke and cigarettes.You could do that in those days.

What happened to him? I asked the shopkeeper after the two had left.

Well, he said, they were out in the shed horsing around with a speargun when it discharged. The spear shot across the room and took off part of the boy’s head.

We both went quiet for a while as the horror sank in.

I purchased my newspaper and left.

Everytime I drive past that shop …..

Mingling with the Miniatures

I saw it advertised in the local rag.

‘Bonsai Show’, it said.

It was a tiny notice. I had to squint to read the details.

The hall was rather tiny.

I squeezed through the entrance almost knocking my head

against several light fittings on my way in.

It looked like a huddle of hobbits around the bonsai which

were unusually tiny.

“They’re not fully grown yet,” a volunteer offered.

Like many of you, I felt like saying but bit my tongue.

The Club President gave a haiku-sized speech for which

we were all grateful.

I mingled for half an hour indulging in the small talk until

refreshments were served.

There were pies, pasties and muffins from the ovens of Lilliput.

“Would you like a short black?” the serving lady asked.

“Any chance of some wine ?” I said.

“Sorry,” she answered, “It’s in very short supply.”

I had had about enough of pint-sized jokes,

and headed out into the big, wide world.

*pic by backyard boss on pinterest

Lord Nelson

Do you think I should bring him in?

Who?

Lord Nelson.

Lord Nelson of the Admiralty? Yes, especially if he’s pacing up and down the driveway, as though it’s the quarterdeck of the HMS Victory. People will think he’s bonkers. He’ll be wanting an eye-patch next.

*pic courtesy of pinterest

That Man Looks Like You

That man looks like you, she says, as we pull up near a block of shops.

So he does, I say, having a good squiz.

Only he’s got more hair, she smiles, and less of a paunch.

Go easy, I say.

And look he’s going into the same shop you plan to go into.

Saves me going in, I chuckle. Hope he buys what I want to buy.

Only a minute passes and he comes out carrying a shopping bag.

Let’s see where he lives, she says. Could be fun.

So we follow his car down Pridham and Plymouth past the long Covid Testing queues.

Hello, I say, he’s pulled up outside your place. And he’s marching to the front door. Like he owns the place.

Saves you coming in, she says.

So I let her out and drive away in my little blue Subaru, scratching my cerebrals.

Rattle and Ho Hum

 
 I rattle the biscuit tin.

You coming in? I say.

Nah, she says, I’m waiting for a friend.

That mangy old tom I saw you with last night down by the chook shed?

Go easy, she says. I don’t talk about your friends like that.

Look, I say, it’s reaching the ungodly hour of 9.30. I’m going to hit the sack. You coming in?

Silence.

Well, don’t forget. Santa’s coming tonight. He might have something for you. Be good.

She looks at me nonpussed.
 

Mustafa and the Makeover

Mustafa who knew me well was a refugee too: he from Syria, me from the realm of common sense.

How would you like it cut? he asked.

Like yours, I said.

Like mine?

Yes.

He didn’t chuckle. He didn’t comment on the outrageousness of my request.

Apart from the difference in hair color, there was also the disparity in volume though he admitted, even at 27, he was losing his hair.

He cut, he swooped, he shaved, he teased and cajoled but when finished he wrought a little miracle.

How did it look?  Shaved at the sides , but on top what hair I had was swept to the other side of my head and held down by gel. It looked amazing.

Askew, I said, It looks amazingly askew.

Like your writing, he said.

Yes, like my writing.