Monday, 24 August 2009
I'm in a small square just off from a main road. I have wheeled my bike up some stone steps into the central square where there are benches around a flower display with a tree in the middle. The flowers are red with plenty of low-lying green leaves that are sometimes dark and sometimes light. The leaves on the tree droop as if moist. There are green pods attached to some. None have turned brown. Sun dapples the seats on the other side. I am in the shade. A woman on a mobile phone with blonde short hair, shorts, tanned legs and jewelley talks into the machine as she walks back and forth looking into the square, over the low lying wall, her back to the small playground where a climbing frame, slide, ropes and hang-bar are all condensed into the same one area. Everytime someone walks in or out the gate creakes, the jumble inside rearanges and everyone in the park looks up. There is an outer perimeter too with more benches and odd depositeries of flowers at regular intervals built into the wall itself as if bricks have been intentionally left out, the gaps filled with earth. Two black men sit on a bench behind and to the left of me in the outer rim. Their legs are stretched in front of them. There is a constant commentary going on between them. A couple moves from one side of the park to the other, stretching out a blanket and laying out with their packages of food. The man has on a purple T.shirt which contrasts with the grass in the sunlight. A chinese man picks a child from off of the slide in mid-descent and lifts her outwards before pressing her to his body. She cries out, then concedes. A small black boy is by the side of the bin by the wall. My bike is next to the bin on the other side. Then comes the bench where I sit. He is watching me. When I look back he moves towards the centre of the square with his back to me. He flips up a coin and lets it fall on the paving stone. He does it again, throwing it up high and then moving back suddenly to let it fall and catch the full impact as it almost bounces before settling again. It is a pound coin and because of its density and compactness makes a thud rather than the clang of a thinner, wider brass coin such as a two pence piece. He does it again. And again. A pattern is begining to emerge. "Heads" I say. He throws "Tails" he says. Then again, throwing it less high so that he is bent over it as it lands to see the result and again and again so that he is crouching over it now, it barely leaving his hands before falling; He alone speaks; "Heads, Heads, tails, Heads, tails, tails tails, Heads, tails" faster and faster until the coin barely stops for a reading. It is only just landing, his voice sometimes pre-empting the fall. It is spinning in the air, he commentating on it like an anouncer at a horse-race where horses are neck and neck each craning beyond the other, no defintie position established. Winner and loser is arbitary. Suddenly in the freneticness of his own commentary he is literally, bodily, blown out of this centre court and swiftly he moves through the bracketted spaces of the two rings of park which are broken in places where the benches lie and the steps join up until he vacates the park gates and crosses the road by a block of flats. The woman is still talking on the phone, pacing back and forth. An old man crosses the outer rim of the park and goes to the bench next to the one taken by the two black men. A woman reads a book, resting it on the wall as she sits on the steps of the outer perimeter just where the lawn starts. Every now and then she glances up, noting the scene, including my position over from her in the inner circle. I notice three large shoots dispersed evenly amongst the red flowers and green foliage of the central display. Gradually it dawns on me what they are. They are corn, not yet ripe but already under way. I go over and feel one of them; the individual pieces of corn under the sheaves of leaves.
Now the boy is back. He is on the wall between the outer and inner perimeter and is picking his way past each interuption of clusters of flower. He stops before each one, as if trying to work out a difficult problem. Then tentatively tries out a route, around and over, edging on, one way then the other, making of each crossing, an occasion. He is doing it for us to see but the game is that he never looks up out from his activity. Half-way round, where there is a gap in the wall where the steps follow through from one level to another he jumps down. I supose he is going to resume where the wall follows on but he doesn't. He leaves the park. A motor bike with no sound dimmer goes round the ring road that encloses the park. It thunders through distorting it's own emanation as the speed of it tears ahead of its own sound. The sound keeps getting layed one on top of another though not quite catching up so that there are jolts where it dies away, then interupts itself, tripping on its own spectacle. All the people in the park follow it through. For the first time we look at each other. A man with a bottle of beer lounges in the outer circle opposite me. His form is blocked here and there by foliage. He gets up with his bottle half-finished and goes. A squirrel crosses the wall where the boy had been, in reverse, jumping the obstacles in a continuous move. A woman in a luminous yellow jacket sits down across from me in the inner circle and lights a cigarette in the sun-shine. Her bike lays across most of the seating so that she is squashed in a corner.
I close my eyes. Think about the corn. Open my eyes to see the woman with the book looking at me. By now I am directly in the sun. The boy returns, calls towards the playground and three small children emerge out of the gate and follow him out the park, across the road and towards the flat. Half-way across the road they all stop to turn and look at a man and a dog crossing in the opposite direction. When the man and dog have passed and are someway along the road going into the other direction, they resume their walk and then disapear inside the flat-fronted building. The woman with the blonde hair has entered the playground where a small child hanging on to the legs of a tall man, turns at that moment. Five adults come in with one small child who seems to be floating. Adults and children are moving around the coloured structure. Children are fed in and out of it. As I go down the steps a boy glides in front, his stomach flat against a skateboard. I wheel my bike out and disapear.