Thursday, 24 November 2022

One Slip, One Hip.

You can only buy the things in the window display at Oxfam, on Wednesdays.

It’s Friday.

He’s cold, he sees a nice jumper – woollen with stand-out buttons – so he tries begging.

It doesn’t work.

German is not his first language, but he knows the international gesture for please.

But the shop assistant is having nothing of it, Friday is Friday and Wednesday is Wednesday; and this is Germany.

Rules are rules.

He turns away and crosses the street to the antique shop; he knows he can’t afford anything they are selling but he wants to browse.

Browsing is fun and it’s a lot warmer in the store than outside; winter is approaching and the winds from the North Sea are chilling.

In the bars people are drinking hot rum and rich chocolate with hot cream.

How do they make the cream hot and keep it stiff, he wonders?

Later he walks through the park.

People are playing basketball and he decides to join in.

He has a good shot so he is not embarrassed and running and jumping keep him warmer than rum or chocolate.

That night he sleeps on a boat.

There is no one about and the boat is not locked.

He settles down in the hold where the wind from the sea cannot reach him, and he dreams of pirates.

In the morning he walks to the market, snow has fallen and the cobbled streets are as pretty as they are dangerous.

‘One slip, one broken hip’, his mother used to say.

To be honest her hips were made of glass; she had been a dancer in her youth and not taken enough care.

His father had worked in the market, not this one but one much like it.

So he knew how to find the best vegetables, the finest fruit and the tastiest cheese.

And there are no Wednesdays and Fridays in the market.




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