I had to go into Belfast today. It was a beautiful sunny day.
I was walking to catch the bus home, enjoying the spring sun beating down on me through Shaftsbury Square when I saw something odd.
Now, I will confess that I have always been a people watcher. People fascinate me, as I watch them I make up weird and wacky stories about their personal life.
They are all so different and they all have a story to tell.
Some try to be individual with their clothes, hair or accessories. Some people try to blend in, some people try to stand out. Some people scream “I am Different!” while others scream “Don’t look at me!”
But as I walked to the traffic lights and pressed the button I saw a woman sitting at the curb on a side street, smoking a cigarette.
Now that may not seem that odd, but she was sitting with her head in her hands. She didn’t look homeless. She was not scruffy, spaced out or badly dressed. (Yeah I know I stereotyped, but deal with it.)
She was about mid-twenties, shoulder length red (ginger) hair. She was dressed well; black converse trainers, jeans, stylish top, a nice looking leather handbag sitting beside her. She had a look like she was either going somewhere, or had just been somewhere.
There isn’t much in that street, so she must have walked there with the purpose of sitting down. The streets of London may be paved in gold, but the streets of Belfast (especially the side streets) are paved in dust, chewing gum and fag butts.
At first I thought maybe she was a worker, nipping out to inhale some of the toxic goodness and enjoy the sun. But there are far nicer places to sit and have a smoke within walking distance. No, this girl wanted to be here. Did she want solitude?If she did, why?
I let the lights go red, the green man came and went, and I stood on the other side of the road watching her. I half expected her to get up and move on, but she kept sitting.
As I was standing there, she finished her cigarette and rested her head on her arms, her legs held tight up against her chest.
I tried my best to appear as if I was waiting for someone, casually looking up and down the road, all the time keeping my eyes on her.
When I am out and about I always have music playing through my IPhone, which is 90% filled with music from the 1960’s with the occasional contemporary song.
The song changed to Rebecca Ferguson “Nothings Real But Love” and the lyrics started to make me think.
The first verse and chorus is:
Standing in a line
Wonder why it don’t move
Tryna get a hand
Watching people break the rules
And maybe the man in charge, doesn’t like my face
But then this world’s not always good
And nothing’s real but love
Nothing’s real but love
No money, no house, no car, can beat love…*
After about fifteen minutes, she was still sitting there, and I was still standing there.
Frankly, I was starting to creep myself out (Quite an achievement!)
I decided it was time to go for the bus so I walked down and stood at the bus stop for about 10-15 minutes waiting for a bus.
As it drove up passed that street I looked down and she was still there.
Sitting with her head in her hands, and I thought “Should I have asked her if she was ok?”She had been sitting there for at least thirty minutes. She wasn’t crying, just looked a little troubled.
Her image stuck in my head for the whole journey back. I just couldn’t fathom why she would choose to sit there.
When I got back in, I sat down at my laptop and started typing. I needed to exorcise her image from my head.
I am honestly not sure if (In the words of Ernie Wise) “What I wrote” is any good, or tells anyone anything, but I will post it shortly.
Hopefully you can let me know what you think?
*Lyrics posted not intended as infringement of copyright (Sue me if you want though, I don’t have anything!)