Urban environment

Follow the Music Man

in time to the throb of his African rhythm.  He’s tall and lean, stylishly frayed, fist bumping the man in the sleeping bag propped against the wall by the old cinema and the girl sitting cross legged on the pavement – but on he swerves, swinging – things to do – people to see.  He looks ahead but sees all around. The large plastic bag, for-life, slung over his shoulder matches his trainers.  The rest of him is swathed in black and he rocks… Side to side he rolls to the beat. 

Past the logjam of bins, suddenly he’s gone – slipped down the alleyway behind the restaurants. 

This town is changing quicker than I can keep up — a grown up female of ample proportions holds forth through the plastic hole at the post office, hair jet black and dyed, held back by an Alice band sporting kitten ears on which the queue behind her fix their impatient attention.  At the other till the woman with a tattooed face tries to answer unanswerable and unconnected questions from a customer who must have ADHD.  Outside a striding woman screams obscenely into her phone to the accompaniment of a placatory man, conveniently on speaker, but to no avail. I open the door to the chemist for an elderly couple to dash in with their buggy, taking their grandchild out of this uncertain world – we sigh.  I browse £400 tooth brushes – one has Bluetooth – I wonder why.

Homeward bound, Edward East, famous son, RA deceased, raises an eyebrow from his plinth.   The chewing gum has been cleaned from the pavement outside his gallery, long closed, but he is as bemused as I…  And now, behind I hear the music too – it follows at an uneasy distance.  I can’t outrun the music man – I am old – he is the future.  His music drifts forward from the other side of the street and is getting louder.  I look straight ahead but see all around.  I keep to the pace of his rhythm and when a lorry passes, I slip down an alleyway like a fox.