Once I grew used to the idea, it would still be hard for me to get to know the two old gents who replaced the two who had gone. There always had been two old gents populating the bench outside Blackwoods Supermarket – near the Town hall car park – opposite the Bookworm bookshop – all in a town that tried to be a village.
The previous two old gents had occupied that bench for it seemed forever – at least two decades just by my reckoning alone. Most of the time, they hardly grew older than they originally were.
The town went on day by day, with little change. Mrs Clark of the local Blackwood family, with the ear of each recurring holder of Mayoral office, was a stickler for keeping all change at bay. And shop signs were kept in position even when the shops using them had changed completely. Some called it laziness, others the credit crunch – but any change seemed to be a badness in itself whatever the bigger badness that the change may have changed into a goodness.
So when – overnight, as it were – the two old gents that had long held fort outside the supermarket in sedentary male gossip changed into two completely different old gents, I was perhaps the first to notice. My philosophy of life involved things staying the same by only changing gradually....so gradual, in fact, the changing was barely perceptible. So, here my sense of accustomed reality was challenged.
As witness, I was not alone for long. The Bookworm proprietor came out with the usual array of cheapies to stack outside in all weathers. He double-took the bench opposite with the two new old gents sitting on it. He then looked at me – triangulated, as I was, beside the car park entrance in relation to him and the two gents together as one.
But not an unchanged tableau for long. Mrs Clark, now squaring the set piece, was soon spotted scowling beside her Austin Mini.....all of us as if in an ancient sepia photograph being taken by an unseen onlooker who is new to the town.
From Blackwoods Supermarket comes the Undertaker in front of the first of two cheap coffins upon the shoulders of faceless procession.
Written today and first published here