There is a commotion on the corner outside my shop. I am out emptying my bins so I can observe. And I will take my time.
There are five ladies there of a brilliant age. They have met because they were going to see something. But it is gone. It has been shut down.
I linger, cleaning my windows, taking part. Because, what has been shut down?
One lady is too close to the road. She is holding forth, outraged. Her handbag is livid. Because, it’s been shut down. She looked at each friend, until the disgust had registered on each face (which it did) and one friend said, never mind it Sandra, there’s plenty of other things to do.
One friend said, get back from the kerb, come, you girls.
One friend obeyed.
But Sandra, with the angry handbag, uses it to indicate the entire town. What’s the use of coming here then? I ask you. Strathalbyn. It’s always been here, that place. It’s the council as has done this.
Let’s get a cake, I’ll have a tea.
I wouldn’t mind a look up High Street. What about the gallery? Is that still there?
It’s the council. It’s typical. They don’t care about people. That’s it.
Check the brochure.
But the ladies remained knitted in a tight and useful square, too close to the road and unwilling to navigate the pattern of a new plan. The traffic edges wisely to one side.
(I don’t want to go inside, it seems dull. The discussion is small but it is an opera. And their facial expressions are scorching the failed council, which, as usual, is never good enough).
One lady is called Mavis. Her shoulders are urging the bakery. She has a fabulous hat of scarlet felt. But nobody listens. She turns so magnificently that the others pause and check for offense. Then they all move away from the edge of the road and look unwillingly through the window of the bakery. They look in a critical and unforgiving way because it will not suffice.
(They do not see me, or my shop, or the traffic. They only see each other, they make eye contact with each other’s eyes because, despite the years, these are still brilliant, smoking with ideas and resources, scornful and powerful.)
But they are moving on now and I have to go inside. It’s cold. They are not interested in my shop; they haven’t even looked my way. But there they go, moving up and down as they walk and checking for handbags and outrage. I hope they find something wonderful to do to replace their plans that were so thoughtlessly ruined by the council.