Thursday, September 18, 2008
Purple Travel Tickets
I remember St Marples in the late seventies when it stood at the centre of the (then) flourishing market. The council used to open it up as an indoor market in those days (this was before the new ring road and the revisions to the planning and fair use regulations when people could just get on with things if it was for the common good) and it used to be the focal point of weather-reliant goods like books and papers and electrical items.
On September 14th 1978 there were lots of books on sale in the foyer of St Marples. It was sunny out – one of those days of late summer heat to remind you what living in the south of Europe was all about (England being in the north). I browsed the selection and picked up a copy of Frederick’s “Cold Fairy Blues,” his collection of poems published in 1964. I didn’t even need to check if it was a first edition, there never was a second!
I had a bit of trouble in paying for it.
“That’ll be 25p love,” said the buxom lady behind the stall and I fished in my purse for the change. I only had modern coins!*
“I’ll have to go to the bank,” I said, stalling for time. “Would you hang on to it for an hour?”
“Of course, love,” she said, tucking it behind the counter. “You could get this signed, if you’re quick. The author’s in town. I saw him buying a bucket earlier.”
Frederick was in town? I’d have to be careful to avoid him or he might mention me being there. That wouldn’t do.** I went around the building and skulked a bit***. When I was sure the coast was clear I snapped my fingers.
I almost laughed when Devious appeared. It was the original Devious, the one from 1978 where he still wore those ridiculous sideburns. He looked at me a bit funny. “You’re not supposed to be here,” he said. “Come to that, nor am I. When did I start serving you?”
“2005, I said, “but you do serve me. I need some now money. Not much, I just want a few trinkets. Say a thousand pounds?”
“You don’t ask for much. That’d buy you a house here.” Devious muttered. “I’ll be back in five minutes.”
“Excellent,” I said, steepling my fingers. “I’ll buy you a cake when you get back.”
Funny. I missed his reply for the sound of his gate opening.
* Although 1978 was post-decimalisation, the coins then were different sixes. The 10ps were huge, the 5p were like modern 10p pieces and they still had a 1/2p - The only coinds that remained the same were the 50p (of which I had two, both minted in the nineties) and the 1p and 2p pieces, and who carries those about these days?
** On account of he’d have already seen me that day, and seeing both versions of me would likely cause a wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey thing.
*** It’s an art form, taught to all demons. I am, therefore I skulk.