Tonight the streets here in St. Paul’s have been filled with slowly perambulating clusters of young folk. They’ve been noisy but largely good natured, from what I’ve seen.
Apart from one incident: I think some chaps must have thrown a firework in the road, because there was a loud BANG, shortly followed by a not-so-young woman pushing a pram, who began bellowing at five or six boys who by this time were all shuffling off in the opposite direction from her as fast as their shuffling would carry them, hooded heads bowed, hands in pockets.
And bellow she did; as one might expect of a mother pushing home an infant whose sojourn has been interrupted by pyrotechnics exploding near her. Her bellowing appeared to take the form of a lecture in the Fireworks Code, liberally retooled for the twenty-first century. The more she bellowed, the more they shuffled. A straggler had to pass her to rejoin the group, and I suspect he may have made an inopportune remark, because the bellowing lifted louder, and the instruction in firework safety became ever more broadly interpreted. The specifics were a little tricky to identify, though she was rather clearer with the broader strokes, to wit, the gregarious young gentlemen in question were
into the bargain.
Given that the young men continued their shuffling with only the faintest of defiant mumblings, and never whilst looking back, all as our stickler for appropriate rocket handling continued her presentation, I like to think that we all learned valuable lessons tonight.
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Some while later, more noise drew me to the window. This time it seemed that two friends were having something of a heated discussion, an argument even; I’m sorry to report it appeared to be over money – like so many fallings out. Except that there was only one man there, and whilst it is entirely possible he was Bluetoothing into a phone, his swift gait, stooping posture and robotically swinging arms all hinted that this was not a member of the laptoperati.
You were wrong! That’s it… Friendship over. No more. You shouldn’t have done that. That was my fifty pence. You can make your money on that fifty pence. Friends no more.
And with that, he was gone, a two-legged test transmission in stereophonic sound, panning from right to left and sinking back into the night from which he had risen in just a few seconds.
–«– –•– –»–
No evening here could be complete, though, without a little mercantile hustle and bustle. The brandy-and-cigars of tonight’s feast of street scenes involved two gaunt fellows and their mute female friend discussing prices, routes and methods of transport in brisk fashion. I may be mistaken, but I think they flagged down a passing motorist, and appeared to negotiate a small fee to carry the trio to an informal all-night pharmacy where the smallest of the three held a store account. After two fifty pees (oh, how I wish neither of these was the fateful coin which destroyed a friendship) were passed over to the driver, our seekers finalised their order by consensus:
Well, I’ll pay for the brown, but what about stone?
We’ll get a stone on the way back.
No problem, I’ll pay for that, I trust you.
And with that, all three – brooding cipher, affable guide and treasurer – slid into their chariot and were away, car driving off before even the doors were shut.
Good night, St. Paul’s.