Her name was Gladys. Must’ve been. Well, one hundred percent it would’ve been if she’d been a character in a book. An American book. From the seventies, maybe. Come on, man, that was prejudiced. Maybe even racist?
Racist? Puh-lease. How could it be racist when she was a white woman and I’m a white man.
Fine, it was a little … rude. And probably – what’s the word – “namist”? Slapping a name on to a person who I knew nothing about, except for what I saw right in front of me, and then thinking the name is a catch-all for everything. And what’s in a name? Not all Gladyses are the same. (Gladysi?)
The Globe, The Globe,
the pub with
next door to the Walker’s
and a lady
A bus to Hanover St passes by,
as the Starbucks busboy
picks up trash.
At night, he plays
in a band
At The Globe, The Globe:
the pub with
A notebook entry, July 2017.
At the Coca-Cola museum in Atlanta, Georgia, visitors get a nice introduction to the history of Coke, from John Pemberton’s times when the drink still contained cocaine and was used as medicine to present day when Coke (and Diet Coke, and Coke Zero) can be found anywhere and everywhere.
Once upon a time, she had been a wunderkind. An overachiever, a go-getter. She had graduated from high school a year ahead of time, and then joined the foreign office as a 20-year-old, and in another time, she would have been on track to become the youngest foreign minister in her country’s history, and probably, the youngest prime minister, and possibly, the first female prime minister.
But not in the Seventies, maybe not even in the Eighties, although after Thatcher in the UK, there were some rumblings – in the circles that were in the know – about her becoming a cabinet member, but by then, she was too far into her diplomatic life overseas, and loved it too much to put in the effort to make it happen. She had her supporters, of course, but not enough of them at the very top.
Also, she had always been one of those people who saw the whole world, not just one country, as her domain, and when she at the age of 24 got her first foreign posting – an undersecretary in Asia – she saw it as a stepping stone to … something.
He knew it right away, the second he got out of the taxi and saw the footprints in the snow. He had expected to see footprints in the snow, yes, because his wife was walking in front of him – while he carried their luggage.
He didn’t like seeing his wife’s footprints in the snow, either, but he had stopped raising the issue a long time ago. She just didn’t think it was important, not like he did. On the other hand, he didn’t think vacuuming was important. She did. For example.
During my university years, my student apartment in Helsinki was an old hotel room converted into a student apartment which gives you a good idea of what it was like but in short: it was tiny.
I didn’t need much, though, just my vinyls and an ever growing collection of CDs that provided me with the most of the soundtrack of my life. Also, I had Sky Channel and its music shows so there was always music playing in the background from the moment I got up and grabbed the remote to the moment when it fell on the floor from my hand.
And yet, when I think back to those days, I think of just two songs.
I don’t know what startled me more, what was being yelled at the office or who was yelling in the office, or whether it was the combination of what and who.
Thinking back, I think it may have been neither, because I couldn’t make out the words anyway and I didn’t recognize the voice so what shocked me must have been simply the sound. I didn’t know what it was, except that it was such a loud and piercing sound that not even Journey (playing in my headphones) could push it back, and I know I tried. I didn’t stop believin’ but I did remove my headphones to get a better idea what was going on.
Yes, this is the history of the world, told with the help of sixty-one 1980s pop songs.
That he was wearing those khaki shorts and that shirt that morning was not a coincidence. He had carefully chosen that outfit because it was Sunday, and Sunday was a market day in Bridport Harbour.
Market day was a good day for a fortune teller, especially in July, and especially in Bridport Harbour, a small community made famous by the TV series “Broadchurch”. Tourists were everywhere on the beach, on the cliffs, and at the market in the customs house looking for the places were fictional detectives Miller and Hardy have chased criminals. The show’s tagline – “A town wrapped in secrets” – worked wonders for a fortune teller as himself.
It was a beautiful night. The sky was still blue but the moon was out, and the streets were getting darker. There were groups of people walking up and down Portobello Road and we could here people laughing and joking, standing outside the pubs as we walked home.
We walked slowly, it was a nice summer stroll, and Son and Daughter were goofing around – Son running into every single phonebooth along the way and Daughter telling funny stories – while Wife and I walked side by side, enjoying every moment.