Archive for the ‘story snippets’ Category

Story Snippet No. 400 – walking backwards

We are sitting as a family at a spontaneous lunch outside of Amici on the high street (East Finchley). A man walks by. Backwards.

At first we all worry about collisions and him hurting himself, walking into a pole or tripping on an obstacle. We watch him cross at the traffic lights. People turn to watch him wherever he goes.

We are talking about mental health. Enfant Terrible No. 2 wonders if the fella gets a physical kick out of it like the elderly man in the short film Slo-Mo. This backwards walker is getting on in years. We all already know the compulsive runner with a backpack who used to run along this same high street, though has been spotted much less in recent times. And I’ve shown the family one of my favourite shorts, The Edgware Walker by Lee Kern, about another compulsive runner in my childhood high street.

He walks back past us backwards, disappearing down the hill, still turning heads.

 

Amici East Finchley

Update 18/5/17 Torrevieja, Spain:

From the balcony of the fourth floor apartment where we were staying I was watching the world going by first thing in the morning. Two Spanish schoolgirls were walking to school together. The one behind, dressed in red and yellow (the Spanish colours), was walking backwards, watching herself reflected in the windows of empty shop units, taking pleasure in reversing the norm.

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Story Snippet No. 399 – news commentary

In my local coffee shop, Maurizio’s aka Amici, there is a man who goes in early every day and annotates in biro the cafe’s copies of the newspapers, in particular the Daily Mail, both text and photos. Rumour is he’s a former journalist. By the time I get there the next wave of activity is under way. People are sitting around debating the daily annotations, their author long gone. This morning two middle-aged local women were connecting over the phenomenon, one sitting in the enigmatic author’s habitual window seat. I joined in. The non-window woman referred to the cafe as a “community centre”, celebrating the fact that, prompted by the annotations, you can discuss the news there freely without fear of offending or being offended whilst remaining lively.

I left after my emergency cappuccino and went back to the car, switching on Robert Elms’ bank holiday show on Radio London. He started playing ‘Shout to the Top’ by The Style Council. As the first notes played, especially the piano ones, it prompted this thought and subsequent email to Robert:

From: Adam Gee
Date: 1 May 2017 at 10:11:32 BST
To: Robert Elms
Subject: LA Style
Is it just me or did the beginning of this Style Council track sound like something out of LaLa Land? Do those Hollywoodfolk owe Weller?

Within 60 seconds he was reading it out and launching into his theory of the common roots of the band and the film soundtrack, as well as a brief evaluation of Paul Weller’s career. Always a kick. Gotta love London.

The Style Council

The one on the right shares a birthday with me and John Martyn

Update: 4/5/17

I got my second mention on Robert Elms this week. He wanted a suggestion for a ‘fourfer’, a quartet of tracks on a particular theme or by a particular artist which he plays every Friday. This was my suggestion:

From: Adam Gee

Subject: Fourfer suggestion

Date: 4 May 2017 at 11:53:49 BST

To: Robert Elms

Songs with bells in

Not little tinkly bells but full-on big ones

Think AC/DC – Back in Black or Pink Floyd – The Division Bell

He thought the category was too narrow and broadened it to ‘Songs with sound effects’

Story Snippet #398: Echoes of Latin

I was jogging in the neighbouring cemetery (St Pancras & Islington) as is my wont, when I passed an old man tending a grave. I looped back to have a chat because it is a distinctive headstone which I have often noticed so was interested in the story behind it.

It is a tall, thin headstone with a burning torch on it which I believed was known as a ‘fasces’ – from memories of my Latin classes at school. I thought that meant a torch made from a bundle of sticks bound together. Having just checked though it looks like it means “a bundle of rods with a projecting axe blade, carried by a lictor in ancient Rome as a symbol of a magistrate’s power, and used as an emblem of authority in Fascist Italy”. Seemingly ‘facem’ is one of the Latin words for torch, I may be remembering that. Whatever – it always reminds me of Latin classes at school which I enjoyed (and went on to study languages).

The old man explained that his brother had designed the unusual headstone for their mother, who died at just 44. There’s a small photo of her and her husband on the grave. The father, who was a parachutist in World War Two, lived to 77 but got Alzheimer’s. He always remembered the two brothers’ names though, even when all else was lost.

The family originates from Camden Town (which is odd as the cemetery does not serve the Borough of Camden). I told him I was planning to go tomorrow on Christmas day to the plot, further down the same lane, of semi- or unmarked graves connected to Arlington House in Camden Town – mainly Irish people who died away from their families on strange soil. “Ah, the Big House,” he said, “that’s what we used to call it.”

After I wished him a Merry Christmas and ran on I regretted not asking him more about both Camden Town and parachutists. I had though passed on the fact that the gravestone is unique in the cemetery, given that I run in it several times a week and know it as well as anyone by now, which I hope brought him some simple pleasure.

17443056-torch-icons-stock-vector-torch-flame

Story snippet #109: Gambling with a name

In the taxi from Leipzig Hauptbahnhof I met a German Commissioning Editor called Kai from Baden-Baden. Unusual name – I asked him where it was from. Up North. Northern Germany? No, further – Norway. He explained his mother used to play table-tennis against a young Norwegian man in her apartment block. He always won – even when he played left-handed. On one occasion he bet her – at stake the naming after him of her first child. She lost. And Kai was named Kai. Not very German …but very romantic.

table_tennis_vintage women

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