‘Have you sold the cheomsang?’ I asked the same woman I addressed last week.
‘Don’t know,’ she replied (she never does.) ‘I’ve been away for a few days. I expect somebody bought it for a fancy dress party.’
Fancy dress? The cheomsang? Oh dear, oh dear.
* * *
I went to the Market Place and sat on a bench in the sunshine. I swear a man came to the adjacent seat, chained a bike to it, and then walked away. About ten minutes later, a different man came along and started unchaining the bike. I eyed him suspiciously, and then got up and asked:
‘Excuse me, is that your bike?’
‘Yes,’ said the man a little sheepishly.
‘But somebody else just left it here.’
‘No they didn’t, it’s been here for ages.’
Well, what do you do? I’m pretty hopeless at most things, but one thing I make a reasonable stab at is assessing human nature. Everything about this chap – from his body language to his eyes to his tone of voice to his funny hat – said ‘I’m an ordinary honest Joe, not a stealer of bikes.’ So I had to admit my error and apologise. That was embarrassing.
* * *
There were a couple of council workmen painting lines on a resurfaced road that appeared to be one process short of finished. I decided that either the council is planning to leave it in that gravelly state, or somebody issued the second piece of paper first. It happens. If the latter is indeed the case, the workmen will have to come back and paint the lines again, won’t they? I suppose I should have asked ‘Excuse me, should you really be painting lines on this gravelly surface?’ but I couldn’t be bothered.
* * *
And finally, there was a man sitting on a bench outside the supermarket, eating a portion of chips from a polystyrene tray (the material from which the tray was made is irrelevant, of course, but I occasionally succumb to writing decompressed narratives for want of heavy relief.) Every so often, in between chews, he would address the apparently empty space in front of him very earnestly and with a somewhat didactic manner. The set of his eyes suggested that whatever he was talking to was about three feet tall. I did wonder…
There’s rarely a dull moment in Ashbourne, you know. Well actually, 99% of the moments are terminally dull, but I distrust numbers.