Thursday, March 1

Staphylococcus aureus

DURING MY lunch-hour I will go for a walk around the city I work in. It is easy to forget, while I am rotting in it, that it is one of the finest cities in the world and before me it was there and after me it will be there. I walk briskly, through the crowds; city-workers with their swagger, their ego, their expensive suits; tourists, lost at the wrong time; and now, spring, cracked out of its shell, stretching its limbs. I look up. Up is a big word. It is longer than two letters. It is forty-one storeys high, each with its own view, its own pigeons, pigeon shit, lichen (hardy), its own graded possession of grey residue. If I lean my head back and look up—sky in long fat lines—then I get dizzy. There are details up that there are not down low. People miss them. They run around with their head angled to a phone and I am listening to music, marching along at my excited pace.
Shall I go to the bookstore? It is no use. I know what they have and what they will get. At my leisure I have fingered all the good books, made note of print, of opening brief biography; fortnightly visits are all that is required. A young man, Ginsberg in appearance walks before me and I slow my feet to match his and my very presence—hot on his heels—is putting him off so he keeps turning around to look at me. Through his thick glasses—‘I am following you, Ginsberg,’ I say to myself. I follow him. He goes to the bookshop. There’s a good chance he has more time to read than me. His trainers are all worn out. Taxis cut you up. Men smoke by bins. The freaks hurry in and out of the gym; what do they do in there? I sneer openly. They pay a premium while I, cigarette in hand and music and laughter of my stunted pulse, walk around the city for free.
The street breaks in four.
The grass, there, on the verge, is worn away. Its green relaxes into the yellow dirt. A shapely tighted pair of legs waves in front of me so, again, I slow. I slow for taxis and legs. A good pair of legs will overtake my mind and my speed. There is no measurement for good legs, besides thin ankles and even that seems, to me, somewhat restrictive. She walks with ease in the stilettos and, I imagine, she is queen of the office, engaged prematurely to an absent young man who will cripple every bit of life out of her, because she fed herself so easily into the beast
of labour and seriousness.
This street I turn down is the local sundial. It is angled at the sun.
Why cannot I write? I am a hard worker and all I ask is that, at the end of the day, of my foolishness, I can compose a good sentence or two! I will go for days without squatting over a toilet but just one day without typing is a curse. I cannot write. Now I string things together. The rest is so poor. I am against an open goal.
They gutted a building. Its front remains but there is nothing behind the windows, just the open sky, the open cloudless sky, neither glass nor blind to offend it. Long ten-inch thick iron juts across the building to keep the façades up. I am a forced to stop in my path and look up, turning my head from side to side. People—distracted by technology—bump into me and we apologise at each other, smiling, and I continue to look. How strange that a building should have no interior. Without an interior it is, surely, without purpose. It is simply a purchase for shitting pigeons. The labourers stand around and they, like I, view the view. One I always recognize; he appears to only stand guard, refusing to do anything else. His grey beard is stained in places, his teeth missing, his skin brown and cracked, and he looks out over the street in his bright yellow. As I walk past—‘All right, man,’ but I daren’t say it.
The back-streets are quieter. There is little life here. Even the offices slung on those unassuming streets seem resigned to their insignificance, architectural details are left half-finished by stonemasons who died long before they heard of Franz Ferdinand.
The Portuguese sandwich bar has a chalked-up sign out front and it is strewn with spelling errors, that lend it, if anything, a childish appeal, an unintentional leap from all the senior and dying sobriety that it is surrounded by. In yellow and pink chalk, they advertise—CURY END RICE with ‘end’ underlined. I smile. The concrete cover is cracked in two. The cobbles are uneven. I struggle not to twist my ankles. Security men and café workers stand in groups, smoking and laughing in the thin strips of sunlight that, with determination, find their way down to the kerb.

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