Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I visit MacDonalds rarely. But I've discovered it has wifi and since my own wireless router packed up, my laptop's not had much of an outing. So here I am, pretending to work but scoffing blueberry muffin and drinking black coffee. I haven't the courage to visit the allotment. Most of the purple sprouting broccoli seedlings I had at home have been shorn off at the stem by snails. I planted some beautifully healthy spinach seedlings the other night.....and then it rained.

So this afternoon, instead, I've been tidying up the topiary sculpture in my privet hedge. Appropriately, it's a massive snail. I think it's only right to pay homage to these creatures. I've been wondering if I could bring myself to eat them. But my guts might complain after more than 30 years as a vegetarian.

This MacDonalds is squashed between an aircraft hanger size Tesco and supersized M&S. There's always a bizarre collection of people here. Families out for the evening meal, people like me, just wasting time, and in front of me an elderly man's clearly doing his accounts. He has a calculator, bank statements and what looks like a ledger spread out on the table. The emptiness and echoing out of hours feel is appealing. It feels like we're all in transit, especially when M&S closes and it's just MacDonalds and Tesco.

I'm generally not a fan of late night shopping. This is partly because I've always been a dormouse and late nights send me to sleep. I prefer to go to bed early with a book than stock up on groceries. And since I work at home, a trip to the shops is often a good break from the screen. But recently, my screen break's been walks with a neighbour who has a new puppy - a sweet little springer spaniel.

We do the walk I love the most, the racecourse and beyond. Today the sea was the right colour, a clear blue. I could see the white band by the shore where the chalk stains the water. There were rabbits, magpies, larks and a bird of prey. Plus a helicopter heading for the racetrack that seemed to hover above us for a few seconds as if it was checking us out. On an afternoon like that I want to liberate the tent from the cellar and take off. But this weekend's spoken for. I'm doing a reading for Ware poets in Hertfordshire on Friday night. I was billed as a slam poet but I'm assured they'll be relieved that I'm not.

Maybe I could reinvent myself for the night? But I don't know that I'd have the skill. When I told my son about my billing, he laughed. As a rapper, he's pretty scathing about slam poets. I guess I'd rather be one thing or the other. Slam poets often strike me as being between two places - either comedy or rap. And there probably aren't any over 50 anyway. So I'll be reading from the books, then.

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