Which is most days because there is always a drift of sand along the pavement outside the shop.
Sweeping is safe. It’s harmless. It’s familiar and comforting. Seeing a sweeper hard at it seems to give everyone a feeling of goodwill. They say:
‘You’re doing a good job.’
‘It’s endless, isn’t it!’
Some people, extra witty, and always male, say:
‘Come do my place next.’
Some passers by stand and watch, and offer emotional support:
‘I wouldn’t bother with that, if I were you.’
‘Just blows straight back again. It’s the wind these days does that!’
‘Well done, you.’
Some people take an elaborate detour:
‘Don’t want to interrupt your good work.’
‘We won’t get in your way.’
One man said, ‘Pretty place this. My mum had one like it. Of course that was back in the fifties. May have been this place. You won’t believe the books she read.’
Some people linger, get involved.
‘It’s the weather for it!’
‘I think there’s something wrong with your broom.’
‘My dad used to make brooms.’
‘Some places around here don’t even sweep.’
This morning I am outside, hard at it, and taking the cobwebs off the windows. It’s raining lightly, not many people about. Then a man approaches from the Woolworths side, and slows down. This usually means there is something significant about to be said.
‘Be careful with the broom or you won’t be able to get home.’
I said, ‘ha ha ha ha ha.’ (Get fucked).
And he walked on, pleased with his quick thinking and razor sharp jocularity.
Who needs his advice! I have a spare one to get home on anyway.