I’m trying amongst other things to write a book at the moment which involves having to wander about and go for coffee somewhere away from the house now and again. All I wanted was a nice quiet coffee yesterday. I headed for a cafe on the the river and found a good spot with a great view. I was just heading for my chair when I noticed a deranged girl coming my way screeching and swinging her shopping bags at me. I then realised I had seen her only five minutes earlier shouting at the rasta that makes fresh expensive smoothies for tourists further up the towpath. She had a carrier bag on each side heavy with fruit. In fact, I think the smoothie-guy had given her the fruit but I can’t be sure. Because I’m rarely shocked by anything I just sort of ignored her and skirted round muttering and tried not to let my finely balanced latte muffin combo be knocked over by her randomly flailing fruit bags. Then I did the thing you are told never to do – I looked her straight in the eye. I can’t help it. I can’t even tell you why I did it but I always have. And nothing, her eyes were dead. Her teeth were chattering and her chin was wobbling which made me think she might have been hallucinating. So I just walked around her and sat down. Finally, she wandered off down the towpath after bashing the owner of the cafe around the neck with her bags which he took really passively which was disturbing in itself. Suddenly, I was besieged by pigeons – lots of them. It was awful. So now I am the one flailing my bag and squeaking madly, well swearing actually, as they swooped, flapped and cooed for my muffin in a un-relenting Hitchcockian fashion. Basically, I bashed a few really hard and they realised that if they came near they would get hurt so they sort of hovered which was actually just as intimidating. Suddenly, another commotion further down. I could see a woman holding up her mountain bike like a shield protecting herself from the fruit bag girl who was really going for her. It was pretty bad. The fruit girl then turned on a woman with a child in a buggy who was cornered and terrified for a moment unable to get away. Meanwhile the pigeons have taken advantage of the diversion and tried to land on me again. So I got really pissed off and called the police. Of course they seemed to take ages to get there meanwhile more and more people were running down complaining of being set upon by the mad bad fruit girl. Eventually the police arrived and ambled down soooo slowly it was a joke. They sauntered back saying that she had gone too far and they had to go further up to try and corner her. Me, I finished my coffee in one as it was now cold and abandoned my muffin to the birds and went back home. My idyllic twenty minutes on the river was nothing but a fraught moment in time. I’m staying in today.
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