Stepping onto the platform of Macclesfield train station I looked to my right, to see a cluster of people anonymously milling about, whilst to my left there was an interesting-looking brunette with strong features and wonderful thick eyebrows sat alone on a bench. How long do you think it took me to decide which to investigate?
It was amidst World Cup fever that I got on the bus for the short hop to the station. I say fever although I rather think that whichever rancid strain of Nazi bacteria it is that’s responsible might actually have succumbed to the nation’s last useful dose of penicillin as the local atmosphere had been muted in comparison to previous years when every car fluttered tacky window flags and the local pub, in a fevered expression of patriotism, sloshed the red paint to make the exterior resemble a giant flag of Saint George.
Despite the sweltering heat we’re experiencing I finally got the wherewithal to get out the house and set off on the trek into town, clinging to the shade along the way, where upon reaching my destination I got to witness the strange sight of lots of odd men – and they were all men – wandering around in their big coats, which they had fully zipped up, as if it was completely normal. One was even wearing the hood.
There is a scene in the famous film Clerks, which follows a day in the life of two American shop employees, where they observe a character they call The Egg Man who’s a crazed guidance councillor that comes in searching through all the cartons determined to find the perfect dozen eggs. And I thought of that scene as I stood by the counter in WHSmith that day; raised hart rate, nervous sweat on my brow, desperate for my next hit – maintaining a complete collection of all the Doctor Who covers of the Radio Times – when I found only space where the magazines should have been. Read more…
It was on the walk into town, just past the college which I’m an alumnus of, where I bumped into someone that I used to go to school with. The shame of being an on-going failure in life; a failed scientist and a failing writer still living in my parents’ back bedroom, means that I’m often keen to avoid former acquaintances in the flesh as I dread the inevitable question: And what do you do? Meeting the Queen’s a right bugger.
Real people have archenemies too. Mine is a nemesis vanquished by my ancestors. Killing dragons with might and intelligence is one thing, but the inherent mastery over a particular species of animals is another. The Saint Patrick snake allegory is apocryphal – the ice age being responsible for the lack of snakes in Ireland – but consider the proof for the Pied Piper of Hamelin.
I have a unusual surname which, like most people, is derived from my ancestors; who they were, where they lived, and what they did. If you’re a Thatcher your relatives were roofers, a Cooper and they made barrels, or if they worked in a foundry then you may well be a Smith. My ancestors, the ones that counted, were none of those: they fought monsters and were the original medieval superheroes.