life’s rich pageant

141

the sun burst into my lover’s bedroom this morning, through the tiniest of gaps in the linen curtains, filling the room with yellow. yellow; a light and warmth synonymous with spring and joie de vivre. feeling wide awake, i gently roused my lover from his slumber to greet the day.

a trip to Glenrothes.

this meant leaving the stilness and warmth of our cocoon to venture into crowds of surly, faceless shoppers.

damn!

it looked too cold outside, despite the sun, to leave the cocoon. but i did.

the sun was low and bright, gleaming – with unquestionable ferocity – on the slick pavements below my boot-clad feet. squinting, i walked off into the sunlight.

i boarded the 14:36 #46 to Glenrothes; a short bus for a short ride from one Fife town to another.

i sat by the window and looked out to sea. flat calm.

the bus was filled with the same beguiling warmth, and strangers. myself included.

the man in front of me sat fondling an ornate walking stick with one hand, whilst holding a well-thumbed paperback copy of Moby Dick in the other. a whale of a tale, and a book i remember reading as a child. his chunky Arran sweater, thick beard and weather-stricken face reminded me of Captain Ahab. however, his baseball cap was embroidered with the Netherlands Air Force ensignia. maybe he dreamed of a nautical life. or maybe he just dreamed dreams of adventure now that his crippled state could no longer sustain the passions and misadventures of youth. no longer the protagonist.

a large woman, with a full-moon face, sat directly opposite me. her thin pencilled brows and the way her hair was scraped off her face, made her look severe. she took out her smart phone and began flicking the screen with such vehemence i feared she might break it or that this was a prelude to an outburst of crazed behaviour. in her, what seemed like, battle to get comfortable i watched as she used her hands to lift one heavy thigh across the other. she caught me watching and threw me a sharp look, a smirk, a dagger.

oh dear!

finally, when she was done battering information from her phone, she stuffed it into her royal blue peeling fake croc skin handbag, looked pensively out the window and huffed out a sigh.

she must be having a bad day…

behind me, an elderly couple sat holding hands in a quiet accord.

the sun dipped in and out from behind the small patches of cloud that peppered the skies above as the bus rumbled and rolled through the Fife countryside. sheep, in heavy winter fleeces, huddled together true to form. puddles of mud, in ditches and tractor treads in the hard frozen earth, reflected little bits of blue sky and optimism. ploughed fields glimmered with a light dusting of white frost. trees, stoic and old, stood bare and stark against the bright horizon. church spires pierced the sky and jackdaws played chase around the steeple as the sun continued to play hide and seek.

finally, we reach Glenrothes Bus Station.

as i got up to get off the bus, Captain Ahab motioned to me to go before him. when i alighted the bus, i felt a tap on my shoulder. expecting to see a familiar face, i turned around smiling.

“this might seem like a strange thing to ask” said Captain Ahab.
“go ahead” i replied, bemused.
“can i pluck a wee bit oot yer jaiket?” he asked.

my curiosity tickled, i replied “why…?”

“i could catch many a broon troot wi’ tha’ oan a hook!” he said, almost blushing.
“maybe a white whale!” i say, but he doesn’t get the joke.

bemused and bewildered, i let him pluck a few strands from my coat. we parted company.

how odd… maybe he lives a nautical life after all…

i quickly made off in the direction of where i needed to be. casually reminded of why i hate shopping, and more so why i have a love/hate relationship with the general public. a broken mobile phone USB lead made a trip to Glenrothes today’s mission. i set off, on my mission, to the mobile phone accessory pop-up shop, cutting through Dunnes department store on my way. the shortest and quickest route through the town centre, avoiding the maddening crowds and shuffling sheople.

the music played in department stores is often criminal. as a musician and music lover, i loathe muzak but it bodes well for efficient shopping. i did not intend making a purchase in Dunnes, i had intended using it solely as a shortcut. a quick, efficient means of getting from A to B. however, being a woman and being a woman who loves clothes AND a bargain, i was seduced by a rail of discontinued stock clearance items – all for £5. i casually perused the rail, and found a lovely pair of olive green skinny jeans. size 8. result. i grabbed them and made for the fitting rooms.

after trying them on, and falling in love with them, i decided to make a purchase. for £5 there is no love lost if they fall apart in the washing machine on their first launder.

as i stood in the queue, i felt something brush against my back. once again, expecting to see a familiar face, i turned around smiling. no familiar face. no Captain Ahab. two elderly ladies stood smiling back at me.

“oh dear… we hope you don’t mind us saying… but what a lovely coat!” said one of the old dears.
“i just had to have a wee feel…” said Iris, a sweet-faced old lady with eyes of pale blue, misted with cataracts.
“that’s okay” i said, chuckling “this coat always seems to gather a lot of attention!”
“it’s lovely! my sister Iris here couldn’t help herself!” piped a not-so-shrinking Violet.

two sisters, Iris and Violet – both in their 90s, had come over from Edinburgh for the day to visit their ‘kid brother’ aged 83 who lives in South Parks. they told me they come to Glenrothes once a week to visit him and bake for him. today they had been baking bread, until they decided to visit Dunnes for a spot of ‘retail therapy’. we chatted briefly until my time came to make my purchase.

baking bread.

i made my purchase at Dunnes, left the sisters and muzak behind and headed straight for the mobile phone accessory shop. another £5. again, no love lost.

with the warmth of the cocoon, my lover’s arms and the joy of a relaxed family fun-filled weekend beckoning; i took off in the direction of the Bus Station.

baking bread.

i stopped in past Holland & Barratt, the only decent health food store in Fife, to make a few small purchases: organic spelt flour, herbal tea and vegan chocolate (for my young friend, Joshua – my lover’s son).

baking bread was now very much in the forefront of my mind. there are few things on this planet that smell as incredible as freshly baked bread.

within the hour, i was back on a bus heading for Leven’s Shorehead. and my head was sore. i hate crowds. i hate public transport.

it was the x4. an express bus that only makes one stop en-route.
in 15 minutes, i would be back to the warmth and happiness and stress-free cocoon.

as i queued to board the bus, a man approached me. i sensed him eyeing me up, then looking away, hesitating to speak but i could tell he was desperate to speak to me. i smiled to him. he spoke:

“aw sorry hen… your coat. can i touch you. i mean… can i stroke your coat?” he said, blushing, with a thin and sodden roll-up stuck to his lip.
“yeah… why not?” i replied, half-laughing.

jesus, get me out of here… you might as well touch it – everyone else has…

“dinnae think am weird or onythin’, ken? it’s braw… a jist hid tae touch it” he said, stroking the sleeve of my aquamarine furry coat.
“where did ye get it? is it real…? ma wife wid LOVE wan like tha'” he gassed.
“it’s not real fur, but a lot of polyesters died to make it…” i jest. he didn’t get the joke.
“i got it at a vintage fayre… it’s a one-off!” i state “sorry i can’t be of more help…”
“that’s awright, hen… am gonnae look online, ken? see if a kin get wan sumhing like it”
“that’s a good idea – good luck!” i said, hastily boarding the bus.

jesus. my coat has been properly raped today…

feeling sorry for my coat, i sat at the back of the bus and stroked the sleeve, almost offering affection and comfort.

as the bus zipped across country, from one Fife town to another, i sat and reflected on today’s events.

the sunshine; my lover’s smile in the morning; his boy’s smile last night when i gave him a present; my lover’s arms through the night; the thought of baking bread; the smell of freshly baked bread – i could almost taste it…

but then my thoughts become trippy and perverse… the old ladies’ with crinkled, smiling faces, wearing coats like mine – Iris in blue, Violet in lilac; Captain Ahab, holding a large brown trout, wearing a brown version of my coat; the coat-stroking pervert – naked wearing my coat….

shuddering, i find myself laughing out loud.

a man in front of me, turns and looks at me.

“nice coat” he says.
“thank you” i reply.

(c) Kat McDonald 2015

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