Friday, September 19, 2008
Lunch and the Pictures
I’d bought three autographs* before the imp returned with a goodly wad of money. “Here,” he said, thrusting a bag at me. “Don’t ask me for any more. How do I end up working for you then?”
I checked the contents and shoved a wadge of notes into my pockets. Funny, I’d forgotten pound notes. These were the original ones, too – dark green and bigger than your head** -- and I remembered how strange the pound coins felt when they came into circulation. Coins went higgledy-piggledy into my purse and pockets, except for those thrice-blessed halfpennies which I threw as a cloud into the wishing well***
“That would be telling,” I said. “I wouldn’t want to alter your fate, would I?”
“Apparently not.” Devious scowled, his facial hair wobbling. “If there’s nothing else then…?”
“No, no. Run away.” I shooed him off and walked around the building again, finally completing the purchase of my poetry book. The stallholder was crafty enough to diddle me out of another 50p as well, and I was so impressed I took her to lunch, where I taught the chef how to make three-cheese carbonara. We finished the meal off with apple pie and tea. I paid but flattered her enough for her to write her name and telephone number on the bottom of a scrap piece of parchment.
I walked her back to her stall and finished browsing the rest of the market. I was tempted to buy an Atari 2600 for the nostalgia value but didn’t.
I could see the gargoyle watching me. It knew what I was if not who, but I wouldn’t risk speaking to it until dark. That gave me four hours to kill and I elected to go to the Rialto cinema. It was pulled down in 1996 but today was showing either ‘Heaven Can Wait’ or ‘Damien: Omen II’.
I went for the former. I hate bad endings in films.
*Getting people’s autographs was a craze in the late sixties and early seventies. In those days I used to carry a pocketful of sweets and chocolate bars and trade them for kids’ autographs. They all thought I was silly because I carried around long rolls of blank parchment to get their signatures on instead of little autograph books.
**Assuming your head is no larger than 6” by 4” and a sixteenth of an inch thick.