Thursday, 8 October 2009


I chain the bike to the metal railings on the other side of the concrete slope. The slope leads to a door-way fastened shut upon which black sacs spilling their contents - like sick- create wet patches. These have partly been absorbed into the concrete, leakeng out over the floor surface, creating dark areas. I smell the rubbish and food on the other side of the ramp where I am in the already chilling autumn air. It is the first day that I've worn my coat. A japanese woman stands outside a doorway partially bending down at the other end of the terrace, hesitating and glancing before re-crossing her threshold. The ramp is not steep enough for those bags to topple over but they are clearly tilting; unstable in their tendency to slide down towards the door.

I go inside the thick set doors on my side of the ramp which are flung open into a carpetted interior which picks up and holds smells of human bodies. I am entering the doors of the Salvation Army, a dark red-brick sixties building on a single level where the same red-brick is apparent on the outside and the inside. Only the inner red-brick is of a darker hue- the bricks are polished or maybe varnished, not chalky. I enter through another door off from the reception area with reinforced glass pannelled doors that swing open and closed when I push them. People sit around in groups of twos and threes on low level fabric soft chairs with tilted backs and no arm rest. Otherwise they sit around small wooden tables of pale wood on kitchen chairs around cups of tea and sandwiches.

I am heading to the display at the back of the hall where on dark fabric brown boards, made from the same material as the chairs, there is a photo exhibition underway. It is a leap of colour that makes it hard to get close to. Magnified insects and the internal apparatus of flowers force a distance. Each colour for the petals, stamen, pollen particles, has been summoned and implemented from a range of options, than ratchetted up by many degrees until it burns the thoat. I choke away and veer towards the book-rack, where a small stout woman with static features is holding the hand of a much taller woman. Because of their height difference they are involved with different shelves of the book rack. I go to the corner rack that sticks out at a right angle along the turn of the wall. There is a paper sign that is attached to one shelf so that it actually inhibits the view of the first few books. It reads Paperbacks, 30p against that stark white background of  standard white printer paper.

I actually have to peer behind the piece of paper in order to read the titles of the first few books and just as I am reading off the first one, I hear the tall woman say "Headhunters". At the same moment I am reading the word Headhunters as I look at the book cover behind the printer paper sign. It doesn't make sense that the tall woman could see past the piece of paper to the title. Does she have special vision?  But no, she is not even looking in that direction or showing an interest here but is unstead passing down a book she has lifted from the higher shelf so that it is in eye-view of the smaller stouter woman who never says a word.

Moments later the tall woman slots the book back into the shelving and, still holding the hand of the short woman, they go. I break off from my area and go over to the high shelf where I think that book was returned to. After scanning back and forth I read on the cover of a book, Headhunter. The author is different and the lay-out is not the same. I pick up another book called breathe- a nighmare scenario where the air facility of a large corporation is infected and making everyone go mad.

After buying the book at the counter by the door for 50p I go back into the hallway and peer through the reinforced glass doors into another room. This is the main hall where stacks and stacks of chairs are put on top of one another along the red brick wall onto which has been stapled a small cross.

In the middle of the hallway, on a square of mats that are pieced to gether end to end and side by side, there are an array of brightly coloured soft foam, plastic units  of varying shapes and sizes. They too can be pressed into a correspondance so that bridges, walkways, doorways and seats are all possible fabrications. There are also a few hard plastic objects cast into the shape of a duck, a frog and one which is a small slide and ladder in lime green. These miniature pieces crowd in on one another  in the small defined centre-space. The lights are not on in the hall and what light enters, enters from the door reinforced with metal ribbing every inch or two and from the large curved and clear glass windows at the far left backend  corner of the hall. I can look throught eh hall and out onto a portion of street runing off paralel to the side of that building. There is no one in the hall and no one in the side street in that portion which is visible form where I stand.

I turn and walk back out past the leaflet stand and down the three steps that extend down to the gravel. When I am unlocking my bike a woman comes up to me and unclasps her hands which are full of pennies and two penny coins. I think she is going to give me some. Then she asks me for money and I give her some. She says, do they still serve food in the main hall and I say, yes, there's a counter and a kitchen and people are drinking tea and eating sandwiches. Then she goes in and I get on the bike. I hear the rain against the window when I get home.

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