Archive for September, 2006
103 diamonds in Manhattan is a drawing that combines several things I like: Google Earth, New York, baseball, and organising stuff. It’s a map of all the places where there are marked areas for people to play baseball or softball in Manhattan, and is kind of a natural progression from the 30 Ballparks thingy.
The freshly redesigned Flip Flop Flyin’ is online today.
It would have been online way back in June had I not got bogged down in some technical coding malarkey which drove a red hot poker of boredom through my skull for two and a bit months.
‘And, Craig, did you overcome your technical limitations?’ I believe you might be asking right now.
The answer to your question is ‘No.’
I was walking with Billy this afternoon and wondered why the hell I was letting something like a bit of coding bring my plans crashing down, and swiftly devised a plan to side-step them and not incorporate this bloggy stuff onto the front page of the site as I’d wanted.
So this entry, originally planned to be a goodbye to the Flip Flop Flying with a G arena of weblogging, err, isn’t a goodbye at all. The blog stays where it is. Here.
And the main site just looks a bit different. Hopefully it’s a bit simpler and easier to navigate. Hopefully a bit of a reshuffle of the furniture might allow you to see things on the site you might’ve forgotten about. There are a few bits and bobs that were hidden away which are now a bit more prominent, and there’s some old stuff back up that’s been offline for ages, too.
I’ll stop blabbing now. Hope you like it. And if you spot any stupid errors in my coding that makes the page looks a bit shitty, please be so kind as to drop me a quick email.
One of the things I like about baseball is the shape of the playing areas; that each of the Major League stadiums has a different shaped field. Here’s a couple of drawings I did.
I’m going through a bit of a creative slump at the moment. I can’t really concentrate on the things I need to do, let alone the things I’d like to do. But every day, I thank my lucky stars that I didn’t paint this picture of Bob Marley that I walk past when I’m walking with Billy:
I woke up around midday today. Fairly late, you’ll agree. I’d gone to bed at 2.30, so it can definitely be said that I overslept. After waking and being greeted by Billy with a few licks to the face, after doing bathroom stuff, I went into my office and opened the window. Right there on the street were two police cars, two fire trucks (the small ambulance-sized ones) and a white car with it’s front all smashed in positioned diagonally across the road. There was no other car that I could see, but from its position, I imagine the white car had pulled out of a drive way straight into an oncoming car. I’d managed to sleep through the accident, and, one imagines, the police sirens, cos God knows Berlin policemen love to use their sirens at any opportunity. So I stood at the window, like many of my neighbours and watched police- and firemen milling around, doing their police- and firemanny stuff. All this background information is here to back up one very small thing: policemen look stupid taking photographs with digital cameras. None of the big, fizzing-flash cameras of mobster movie killings, just a tiny digital camera like you or I have. I’ve seen policemen taking photographs a couple of times before in my neighbourhood when cars have been parked stupidly and they’re making a photographic record so the owner of the offending vehicle has no argument; and for some reason policemen tend to hold the camera like it’s the first time they’ve ever used one. Like the cliche of your granny trying to use a video recorder (my Gran, though, was a VCR demon). You half expect the policemen to get their reading glasses out before they start snapping.
I don’t often write about films. Mainly because I’m rubbish at describing how I feel about them: “it was pretty good” or “it was crap” are usually the most insightful things I have to say about them. Anyway, I went to see Miami Vice. I, like a lot of you I suspect, am a big fan of the TV series. I’ve bought the DVDs of the first two seasons, watched them again and fell in love with the show all over again. I can ignore the dated fashions and stuff, because Crockett and Tubbs still look very cool; Crockett living on a boat with an alligator is very cool; and Castillo’s monotone, head-lowered, gruff mumble is very cool. When I found out Michael Mann was gonna do a film version, I was kinda excited. When I found out Colin Farrell was gonna be Crockett, that excitement drooped significantly. But still, my curiosity got the better of me, and I caved in and went to the kino.
The good news, for those of you that haven’t seen it, is that, aside from the names of the main characters and the location, there’s virtually nothing in the film that reminds you that it has any relation to the TV show. Like all Michael Mann films, it looks amazing (I really can’t think of a director who shoots night scenes more beautifully than him). The boats, cars, and aeroplanes are very very cool. But, the story is pretty slow, and just as it gets going it ends. Colin Farrell is Colin Farrell. Jamie Foxx and his crazy hairline look like they don’t want to be there. Yep, it was crap. But it looked pretty good.
If you wanna listen while you are reading, the song’s on this page: http://www.myspace.com/maryweiss
Is she really going out with him?
Well there she is. Let’s ask her
She’s not told her friends about him yet… something must be up. And the question, ‘Is she really going out with him?’ Well, he’s either a bad boy or a total nerd. But we’ll find out, I’m sure.
Betty, is that Jimmy’s ring you’re wearing?
Betty. A good name. Of course, her parents still call her Elizabeth. And, as it’s the sixties, no-one calls her Liz (it seems that Liz must’ve been invented as an abbreviated name at some point in the seventies; I can’t think of any famous Lizes from before then). Anyway, he’s given her a ring. Must be ‘going steady,’ then. Which adds even more intruige. They’re going steady, and she’s not told her friends. And that ‘Mm-hmm’… it hides a multitudes of sins, doesn’t it?
Gee, it must be great riding with him
He’s got a motorbike! Oh my God!
Is he picking you up after school today?
Hmmm, I guess he’s older than she is, then. Maybe he’s got a job. I suppose he must have if he can afford a motorbike. There were boys like that that hung around the car park of my school in souped-up Ford Escorts. They always had the, err, sluttier girls in school.
Is that a yes or a no? Sounds like a no to me. Had an argument, have we?
By the way, where’d you meet him?
C’mon, Betty, dish the goss!
I met him at the candy store
Maybe he’s not such a bad boy after all. Candy’s not so tough, maybe he’s a nice guy with a motorbike. Where I grew up there was a sweet shop on the corner. The glorious swirl of the owner Mrs Creasley’s cigarette smoke and that reminder of an adult world combined with the drugs-for-children perfume of rows of rows of big plastic tubs of sweets, all waiting to be put dished up by the quarter into paper bags… I’m back there right now, I can almost touch the smell.
He turned around and smiled at me
I’m imagining John Travolta in Grease now, looking over his shoulder in the car park at the football game when he first sees that Sandy’s at his school, not back in Australia like he’d thought.
You get the picture? (Yes, we see)
Oh, they get it alright: he’s a dreamboat and no mistake! God, they’re so jealous!
That’s when I fell for (the leader of the pack)
Betty! The leader! My oh my! You just know that Betty’s lost ‘it’ to him, don’t you? He’s the leader, for Christ’s sake!
My folks were always putting him down (down, down)
Huh… hmmm, well maybe the other two girls aren’t her friends, then. If her parents knew about him, then surely her friends would too. Perhaps they’re just gossipy girls on the periphery of her posse. But anyway, Ma and Pa, they no like him…
They said he came from the wrong side of town
Westwick Drive was the wrong part of town where I come from. Oooh, the frenzied delight in my Mum’s voice when she’d tell tales of what someone who knows someone who’s sister lives near there – not on Westwick Drive, you understand – had told her about the girl who came home from school with nits and her dad dragged her into the garden and shaved off all her hair!
(whatcha mean when ya say that he came from the wrong side of town?)
Motorbikes, teenage pregnancies, and drugs I’d imagine.
They told me he was bad
“But you don’t know him, Dad!”
But I knew he was sad
A-ha, now we’re getting somewhere. Behind those ocean-blue eyes there’s a mysterious melancholy streak…
That’s why I fell for (the leader of the pack)
…and Betty can’t help herself, she’s falling in love; those drums beating like her heart jumping in her chest.
One day my dad said, find someone new
Oh no! Poor Betty. Young love chopped down by daddy. I can’t imagine this, actually. My parents never interfered in my love-life when I was a teenage. Mainly because their was no love-life. Must be pretty shitty, though; all those feeling swirling around, then the boss tells you you can’t act on them.
I had to tell my Jimmy we’re through
(whatcha mean when ya say that ya better go find somebody new?)
Rub it in why dontcha!? You know what she means!
He stood there and asked me why
Oh dear, he’s a bit shocked. He didn’t see this coming.
But all I could do was cry
I bet he wanted to hug you, Betty.
I’m sorry I hurt you (the leader of the pack)
[He composes himself] “Hey, baby, that’s cool.” Sorry, he’s still John Travolta in my mind.
He sort of smiled and kissed me goodbye
Ever the gent.
The tears were beginning to show
She’s broken his heart!
As he drove away on that rainy night
He’s broken-hearted and on a big motorbike. Not a good combo.
I begged him to go slow
But whether he heard, I’ll never know
I imagine he did hear her but thought ‘fuck it.’
Look out! Look out! Look out! Look out!
The absolute best moment in all of recorded music history.
I felt so helpless, what could I do?
Remembering all the things we’d been through
Aaah, all the good times and you just know there’ll be no more.
In school they all stop and stare
I can’t hide the tears, but I don’t care
And why should you, lovely Betty?
I’ll never forget him (the leader of the pack)
I’m sure he’ll be happy about that. Let’s hope there’s a Heaven, and that he’s up there, and knows you didn’t mean to hurt him.
The leader of the pack – now he’s gone
The leader of the pack – now he’s gone
The leader of the pack – now he’s gone
The leader of the pack – now he’s gone
Bad boys in the sixties seem so romantic now. A greasy-haired guy in leather on a big motorbike. Wunderbar! And it’s not nostalgia, because I wasn’t born then; but the idea of that bad boy seems so much nicer than a modern day bad boy teenager. I’m sure, though, comparatively, it was probably much more of a shock to the parents who’d given birth to children during or shortly after World War II to have rebellious offspring. But if we transpose the record to a 2006 setting, we’ve got a Reebok-trainered, baseball-capped, spotty Mike Skinner clone on a scooter; probably filming his mates kicking the shit out of a fat kid on his mobile phone.
Anyway, that was Leader of the Pack. There are very few records in the world as good as that one.
While I was searching for video clips on YouTube, I found this. Aaah. She does a good Look out! Look out! Look out! Look out!
Another geogradoggy, this time it’s Martha’s Vineyard:
Click the image for a bigger version.
Google Earth coordinates: 41° 26’42.16″N 70° 34’11.73″ W.
As is my wont from time to time, today I’ve been slouched in front of my computer ooh-ing and aah-ing at various things on Google Earth. Mainly I’ve been checking out baseball stadiums, but I’ve also been looking at various places I’ve visited in real life. One of those places, Beacon in New York state, looks rather special from above – like an barking dog:
Click the image for a bigger version.
Or, if you wanna look at it on Google Earth, it’s here: 41° 30’14.73″N 73° 59’13.16″ W.
From BBC News:
Dead stingrays with their tails cut off have been found in Australia, sparking concern that fans of naturalist Steve Irwin may be avenging his death.
For some reason, this reminds me of the ‘war on terror.’ I wonder if they got the stingray that actually stung Steve Irwin… or maybe it’s hiding in a cave near the Pakistan border, too…
Don’t you just hate those ‘blanktastic’ or ‘blankalicious’ type of words? God, they rub me up the wrong way. Nearly as much as the superfluous use of multiple exclamation marks!!! Or when people insist their band has a lower case letter at the beginning, like blink 182 or k.d.lang. Or when people spell ‘rock’ as ‘rawk.’
Anyway, every day from now until the day I leave this city, I will have to look at a ‘blankalicious’ word, as one of the empty offices on the ground floor is now a pubic hair removal shop which offers ‘bodylicious waxing.’ That sign on the door isn’t quite as bad, though, as the thought of a mountains of greasy pubic hair in the bins in the back yard.
For no reason whatsoever – mainly cos I’m a bit bored and don’t know what to do with myself, I suspect – here’s some photos that I took with my mobile telephone.
Copyright is a funny thing, huh? Funny peculiar not funny ha-ha. This fellow, the wonderfully-named Clayton Counts, is in a spot of bother with EMI for creating and putting online a ‘mash-up’ of songs from Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Of course, you may have already read what Boing Boing said about the matter, and I agree; EMI are only making themselves into a cartoon evil corporation by their actions.
But it’s interesting that copyright law is so rigid and allows for no grey areas. Clayton’s mix (which is wonderfully odd, by the way; and I assume if EMI get the IP addresses of those who downloaded it, they’ll be coming after me for that, if not for this mix I made of all the songs from Pet Sounds playing at once) will, of course, not affect sales of either album. I’d imagine that 99% of the people that will buy either of those albums this year will have never even heard of Clayton’s mixes.
All this has reminded me that I’m potentially playing a dangerous game with the mix tape mp3s I’ve been putting online. For me, they exist in that grey area, as I see them as 1) a way to introduce you some cracking music that you might not have heard and may care to investigate further, 2) remind you that, “oooh, that Stereolab song was great, must pick up a copy of that album,” or 3) give you a chance to hear Here I Go Again by Whitesnake again. I have no moral dilemma about number three on that list, as I sometimes download that type of song illegally because I’m not taking away a sale: if I couldn’t download it I’d forget about it, not go straight to the shops looking for Whitesnake albums.
Of course, this grey area doesn’t exist. It’s all theft in the music industry’s eyes. But, hypocritically, I also like to protect my work, and have in the past sued people who’ve stolen Minipops and used them in adverts without my permission or payment. I see a difference there – they’ve directly affected my income, therefore I feel justified in seeking money from them. EMI no doubt feel the same way about their products.
I have no conclusion. I don’t know the answer. The grey area will continue to exist in my head, and I’ll continue to justify my hypocrisy. But, whatever, Clayton Counts needs our support to embarrass EMI into backing down, otherwise he’s financially fucked. He makes good music, too, you should give it a listen.
Thanks for the encouraging comments regarding the August Mix. Here, for one week only, is the
This is what’s on it:
Emperor Tomato Ketchup – Stereolab
I once played this song when my mother was around. She made that “this isn’t music!” face and chuckled. It’s my favourite Stereolab song.
The Storm – World of Twist
A band that should have been big, but, of course, the world only had space for The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays to be the Mancunian big boys as th eighties crossfaded into the nineties. So World of Twist bubbled beneath The Charlatans, Inspiral Carpets, even Northside. Yet they made three perfect singles, a super Rolling Stones cover, a great album, and then drifted off leaving a few of us with an underappreciated band to champion. Sadly, their singer Tony Ogden died earlier this year.
Chrome Radio Rocks – The Toes
Off a Sonic Mook Experiment compilation. I know nothing about this band other than this song, and that “Rocking with The Toes” was a common catchphrase in my house at the time.
Never My Love – The Association
Oh how clever I am with my mixtape skills… Yeh, whatever; this is the song that the previous song samples. Apparently this song is one of the most-played songs ever. Weird that, cos I’d not heard it before until it came on a radio station when I was driving around in Mexico in January. Little did I know that this song was on an album that was gathering dust in a pile of CDs in my bedroom.
New Mistake – Jellyfish
Any band that has Supertramp as a fairly obvious influence is alright by me.
We’re All In This Together – Ben Lee
Aaaah, we are, aren’t we?
Marwa Blues – George Harrison
From his splendid posthumous Brainwashed album. When I went on a long weekend to Wales with my mates last year, we were driving around, chatting away, and this song came on BBC Radio Two. We all went quiet. At the end there was a lovely smattering of “Ooh, that was nice”-type comments, before we got back to discussing the woes of Nottingham Forest.
Never Enough – Rob
I bought Rob’s album Satyred Love when I was wanting something new to listen to and had no idea what to buy. This album had a nice sleeve, and was released by the lovely French label Source: how bad could it be? Not bad at all, in fact. This song is the best one on that album. I do wonder though why he chose such an ordinary name to release his records under.
‘Til I Die (Alternate mix) – The Beach Boys
The regular version of this song, on the Surf’s Up album, is one of Brian’s best songs. I found this version, though, on a promo copy of their Stack-O-Tracks album. It’s subsequently been put out on the Endless Harmony Soundtrack, and was apparently mixed by an engineer for his own enjoyment. It’s divine.
One Of Us – Abba
I could listen to this song twenty times a day and it’d still break my heart every single time.
Sweet Emotion – Aerosmith
Grab a broom, wrap a couple of scarves around it, pretend to be Steven Tyler.
That’s it. The October Mix might be a bit different. I might do a rocky one, or I might do a guilty pleasures-type thing. Whatever, I hope you enjoy the September one.
About a year ago, my friend Dave recommended that I read a book called A Box of Matches by Nicholson Baker, as he thought that something I’d written about on this site was of a similar tone to Baker’s work. I read it, enjoyed it, then read another of his books. A couple of days ago I finished yet another of his books (The Mezzanine) and adored it. It’s all about the tiny details of life. Inspired by this book, and wanting to test my memory, I decided to try to remember as many details about my trip to the launderette yesterday. I began scribbling as soon as I got home and added more as extra details came back to me in the evening. So, the following tale is a fairly detailed account of about an hour of my life. It’s probably quite boring. It’s definitely quite long (four and a half Word document pages using 12pt Times New Roman). But if like me you enjoy tiny details, you may like it. If you don’t like reading long chunks of text on a screen, I made a Word document you can download, print, and read on the bus home from work. Have a good weekend.
Usually there’s a holdall on my bathroom floor, slowly filling up with used clothes to be laundered. Since my cleaning lady came a week ago – and I like to move the bag, to make it easier for her to clean the floor – my dirty laundry has been piled up, overflowing from the holdall in the little chamber by the front door. This chamber also houses shoes, a couple of matching Samsonite suitcases (one for long weekend use, the other for full-on two weeks on holiday use), a Nike football, and some tools.
I picked up the overflow of laundry, and took it and dropped it a couple of metres away on the floor of the bathroom, then returned to get the bag and another empty holdall. I took all the stuff out of the first holdall (brown fake leather; it came into my possession in 1997 after a trip to New York where my bag got trashed in the hold of the plane. This brown holdall was offered as a replacement by Virgin’s customer service lady) and separated clothing from towels and bedding, placing the non-clothes in the other holdall (silver grey Adidas; bought from a Modell’s store near Times Square this last April to accommodate all the stuff I’d bought whilst there).
I grabbed the book lying next to my bed (The Men Who Stare At Goats by Jon Ronson), checked my pockets for keys and cigarette lighter, and left. My front door tends to stick a bit when I try to slam it shut; I’ve worked out that a little push of the metal tongue that fits the female hole in the door frame will loosen it enough to smoothen the slamming process.
As I left the building, I unhooked the front door that someone had left open by niftily stepping on the floor-level latch and darting out before it hit me on the back. It irritates me that this first line of defence against burglary is ignored by some of my neighbours. I walked on the eastern, shaded side of the street, past a group of women stood outside a cafe, (two young, one older; one of the younger girls has knee-length stripey socks virtually the exact same colours as the old Houston Astros “Rainbow Guts” uniform), and waited twice to cross a four-pronged junction: first crossing the smaller side street, and then the main street to the sunnier side, where I nipped into a local store where the woman calls me “junge Mann” and the man calls me “Meister” or “Nachbar.” Today, the woman was working, so I was a young man when I bought my pack of Gauloises Blondes.
I continued down the street, focussing on the large square light in the distance, which indicated some television or film work was going on. As I got closer, I saw a group of maybe ten people all stood near each other on the pavement, blocking the area between the building and the parked cars. A woman with a clipboard stood nearest to the parked cars looked in my direction, but she obviously believed I had the power to leap over her or walk through people in the manner of a ghost, as she made no attempt to move until I was less that two feet from her and rather impatiently said ‘excuse me’ which resulted in her moving a few inches in towards her colleagues with a tut.
I passed several people watching and craning their necks to see if the group of people contained anybody famous, turned a corner and continued the fifty or so metres to the launderette. (I paid no attention to the potentially TV star-containing group; not because I’m flippantly cool, just because I don’t watch German television and would have no idea about the fame or otherwise of any of the group.)
There was only one person in the launderette, a woman in her twenties with very dark hair and a bright red sweater. I looked around for two empty machines next to each other, found them and filled them both after removing three damp socks (including a pair) and a very clean and warm five cent coin from one of the machines. I had too much stuff to go in the machine I’d allocated for towels and bedding, so a single duvet cover had to be folded up small and slipped into the end-pocket of the silver holdall to keep it away from the laundry that was due to be clean in forty or so minutes. I set the bedding and towels machine to a higher temperature than the one containing my clothes, and walked over to the machine on the opposite wall which takes my money and I pushed three euros worth of coins into the slot, pressed the number 3 button; put in 30 cents, pressed the button which gives me washing powder, and took it to the number 3 washing machine and emptied the plastic cup of powder into the tray, and pressed the ‘on’ button. I repeated the process for the number 4 machine, then put the brown holdall inside the silver holdall, checked the time on my watch (a Bulova watch with a nice brown face and gold hands that had belonged to my grandfather. I’d begun wearing it again only two days ago, having previously given up on it, as it had started to lose time about a year and a half ago. But I really like the watch so tested its time-keeping error over a 24 hour period and found it only slipped five minutes behind, so I decided that, for short periods of use, it was more than sufficient) and walked to a nearby coffee shop; past a smiling man using a laptop on a bench outside a pizza shop, and several people riding their bicycles jerkily along the pavement which had too many pedestrians to make their bicycle journeys smooth.
The coffee shop had only one person in the queue before me, so I got my cappuccino fairly swiftly – paying one woman with the fresh, tanned skin of someone who’d just returned from holiday, while another woman, with a nose-ring, made my drink – and walked back to the launderette. I dropped my bag on the pavement outside, lit a cigarette, and spent a few minutes staring vacantly at the road, snapping out of it when a middle-aged man, small and slim enough to be a jockey, walked past me and I wondered if he was gay or not. A few yards behind him was a young woman in her twenties who could’ve been Linda Fiorentina’s younger sister, wearing shiny black boots that reached up to the lower edge of her knee. The laptop-user outside the pizza place also gazed at her as she passed him.
Extinguishing the cigarette with my shoe, I went back inside the launderette. Now there was a man in there who looked busy with two plastic tubs (dark blue and pale blue); moving wet, clean clothes to the tumble dryers. I set my coffee and bags down on the counter, put my back against one of the machines I was using, and lifted myself up to sit on the counter; reminding me of how the carriages of a Ferris wheel pivot with gravity. I unzipped my coat, took the book out of my pocket and began reading, back-tracking a little to re-familiarise myself with the last of the paragraphs I’d read earlier in the day whilst sat on the toilet. I glanced up as another person, a woman in her late-twenties in a dark red coat, came into the launderette and breezed past quickly, and I re
turned to the book. I didn’t have the concentration needed to really read, though. My mind wandered, I looked out of the windows at the people passing, surprised at how many people mirrored my gaze with their gazes into the launderette. I looked at the backlit advertisement for a local cinema on the wall to my left, and at a van stopped in a traffic queue with water and two smiling waves (with faces like those usually drawn on crescent moons) painted on the side in inappropriate-for-a-vehicle house paint. The red-coated woman came back to the front of the room to put her coins in the machine. Her dyed burgundy hair was surprisingly thin on top.
With seven minutes to go on both of my machines, I went outside for another cigarette, something I always do when there are only a few minutes remaining in the wash cycle, the cigarette allowing me to return to a finished wash. As I smoked, the possibly gay jockey went past in the opposite direction.
I must’ve smoked quicker than usual, as three minutes remained when I returned, so I slurped down the last of my coffee, dropped the paper cup into the bin on top of a half-empty plastic fruit salad container and a scrunched-up beige striped shirt, and read to the end of a paragraph in my book, then placed it in a side pocket of the brown holdall.
When the washing stopped, and the light that said it was safe to open the machine came on (at the exact same moment as a click unlocked the door to the machine), I crouched down and tried to pull out my clothes without dropping any on the floor. I was testing myself. Ordinarily, I’d put my bag beneath the door to catch stray socks, but occasionally, I like to play this game. I only dropped two socks in the process today, but I did ruin an already semi-ruined white sock when I removed a chunk of bundled-up t-shirts, and caught a bit of thread from the sock on a rough edge of fingernail. The more I pulled the bundle away, the longer the thread got; pulling the open end of the sock in on itself like a duffel bag. After removing all the clothes, I lowered my head, put my hand inside the drum and gave it a spin to check for socks trying to escape their life on my feet.
I folded my clothes with vague neatness so that when I returned home, hanging them up to dry would be easier with all the socks together, all the underpants together, etc. I folded my three New York Yankees t-shirts with the backs facing upwards. These dark blue t-shirts have identical fronts (the interlocking NY logo on the chest), but the backs are different, featuring the names and numbers of three players (Jeter 2, Cano 22, Gehrig 4; the latter of which I bought on the same day as the Adidas holdall).
Emptying the second machine was easy, it came out in one big chunk, which I stuffed straight into the silver holdall; my patience for folding used up completely with the other bag’s contents. I zipped the bags, zipped up my coat, put the one bag strap on each shoulder and left with a quick glance back just to make sure I’d not left anything, and began my journey home.
I took a slightly different route. If you imagine my journey to the launderette as a tall L shape, then my return journey along parallel streets was the upside-down, 180 degree rotated L that would complete a rectangular journey and leave me at the point where I’d have to re-cross at the traffic lights where the Rainbow Guts socks women had been stood earlier. This time, of course, my bags were heavier, containing, as they did, wet laundry. But I always dry my clothes at home by hanging them up or draping them over radiators. I tell myself this is to help save electricity and the environment, but I know that really it’s to save money and to spend less time in the launderette.
The silver Adidas bag made squeaking noises at the places where the plastic buckles on the ends of the strap and main body of the bag met. It wasn’t random noise, though; it was an enjoyable rhythmic krik-a-krik-uh, krik-a-krik-uh. As soon as I noticed the rhythm, though, I became conscious that it was the specific way that I was walking that created the rhythm, and my consciousness made it more difficult to effortlessly keep that same rhythm.
I moved to another part of the pavement as I passed a woman with a double pushchair (for twins) so that she didn’t have to alter her course. A few steps later, an attractive woman with a splendid jaw line and a large black mixed-breed dog did the same for me with my two large holdalls.
I turned left onto the last edge of the rectangular journey, and a young woman with blonde curly hair up in a ponytail, dangly earrings, and ill-fitting black jeans stepped out of a bakery and walked in the same direction in front of me. I didn’t notice her face, but as one man, then another, afforded her long glances as they passed, I could only assume she was attractive.
This time when I crossed at the traffic lights, both sets were green as I took them. As I got closer to my building, a woman passed me on her bicycle, and I looked at the smile-shaped skin of her lower back exposed by her low trousers and short jacket that rode up with the extension of her arms to the handlebars. I fished in my coat pocket for my keys, which came out along with the removed top section of cellophane from the cigarette packet I’d bought.
I trudged up the stairs, opened my flat door, and dropped the bags on the floor outside the bathroom door with a flex of the shoulders and thumbs under the straps, like an old-fashioned fellow would remove his braces at the end of a long day. The bags dropped to the floor with a heavy thud that, for some reason, brought an image of a detective’s shoulder holster dropping to the floor around his ankles next to a pair of his lover’s silky underpants during the love scene of a cop show.
I walked to the kitchen, opened the fridge door, and took a swig of semi-skimmed milk that emptied the carton, walked back to the little chamber to hang up my coat, noticed a hooded sweatshirt I’d planned to wash still hanging there, and returned to my bags to begin hanging up the clothes to dry.