Monday, May 19

As Happy as the News

THE LADY ON the news smiled after the weather report, and said to the man—‘You delivered! You said it was going to be sunny and it’s sunny! You delivered!’ She was having a joyous moment on national television. I looked out of the window, and the scene, that had for so long been grey and shadow-less, was bright and a blue unblemished. Everything was fresh. Everything was picked up from its wet spring knees and brushed off to glisten on the fifteenth of May.
The city was beautiful in the sun. I thought to myself—‘Even with all of these awful bankers, this is a beautiful place to be, this city and all of these buildings and these people, and I am happy.’ I walked along knowing it was beautiful. If the sun should be clipped by a building so that only the edge of the pavement was alight, then I walked on that narrow strip, balancing expertly, and warm. It was somewhat impossible to be glum; how could the terrible crowds keep me from being completely happy? I was as happy as the lady on the news. The world, dished out to me as a portion of my city, was colourful and colours abound.
At the start of my lunchbreak, I went to window and looked down at the street from five floors up.
My friends came in from a walk and told me, with silly excitement, that there had been a bomb-scare just around the corner. The corner was created by a shaft of building against a long hard line of brilliant yellow sunshine.
Around that corner was the bomb-scare.
I set off down one road and then another, cutting between the small gaps, knowing my way precisely, as I have, through many excursions, learned this area like the back of my hand. Next to a church, a whole gathering of sun worshippers were eating their lunch and relaxing. The air was crisp, trying to catch up, but it was grand and a fine thing to stroll through. Down London Wall, a left on to Moorgate and then right the way down—leaning against the edge of the pavement—and the road ahead of me closed; one yellow black-lettered sign in the middle, sending the confused drivers elsewhere down side-streets. Between roadworks and ROAD CLOSED signs, the traffic was all in a muddle; I was relieved to be on my own two feet and striding down the street with the heat upon my shoulders.
As for summer in the city, there is nothing finer.
A group of Chinese tourists, having come from the Bank of England, made their way around the corner and took it the high sights with spectacled eyes. Businessmen and women passed in opposing streams, brushing one shoulder against the other. I moved with a precise pace that was neither slow nor quick; I swung my arms and enjoyed my cigarette.
I could see ahead of me that Bank was all jittery.
Getting closer and the broad sweep of the building’s shade was cast open a fanfare to the unwavering sunshine, and in front of me the whole scene was displayed.
Tape marked boundaries. Cars buses taxis shuffled across the roads. People stopped where they walked and paused—often raising a mobile to take a photograph—or to talk to their friends and peer their nosey noses at the goings-on. The sun halted its descent for a moment to take a look, too.
In the middle of the roads that met in a distorted five-point star was a sorry-looking car. Two policemen stood guard at it, while a gentleman without uniform took an authorised look around. Traffic past around it. Crowds gathered and broke apart. In the star of unshade, people paused to enjoy the day and to have their lunch. I, myself, had to dodge pedestrians who, without any warning, froze in the spot to take photographs. I cursed them aloud and carried on because—as beautiful as the car was, just lying there, its doors open to the mild breeze and all of them angled at the sun, the unflinching silver showroom paint gleaming, the firm guardians, the hollow upholstered and used—I was mostly uninterested.
I passed on.
On one side of me there was the scene.
On the other side of me, the pillars of the old building dripped down and at their base bare-legged girls and chatting men, hunched over boxes and plates, their limbs under roll-ups, conversed squarely or said nothing at all.
And there I left the car, its wings unfolded and held in the air; too, I left the crowds and nosey observers. Pacing forward and clinging to something that was cluttering up my mind, I didn’t really care for it, other than it was, to all, something beautiful, and, to me, something that I, no matter how terribly, had to note down.

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