Lunch on a park bench. Anti-SDF armrests forcing my elbows uncomfortably upwards. The slip of a camping spoon in a plastic box. Hot air, a grey haze, a deep sense of insatisfaction. The grass was overcast, tinted with the ink of the glowering sky. A gardener walked by, his idling strimming machine puffing the earth’s dust into the air. His tattooed forearms were tensed around the handle of this nature botherer, his sun addled ink stretched and faded. The spoon slipped on in the box.
We watched as a mn and his pushbike trundled towards us, his infant charge sat limp in the seat, solemnly watching us as her tender manoeuvred a hip height handle. “Ça pédale bien hein?” I remarked, nodding to the listless toddler, not expecting more than a shrug. “La jeunesse, c’est pas comme avant” I earned by way of response.
The elderly engine read apathy in my regard and thought that I too had seen the woes of the world. “5 francs l’heure je gagnais à l’époque, je vivais bien. Maintenant on dépense trop, c’est de la merde.” I nodded, slipping the spoon once more as though preparing a weighty soliloquy. “Au moins il y a de la vie hein?” I reply, nodding at the infant, whilst keeping my eyes at a suitably weary half squint.
“Les petits enfants, je les tape pas” the stoker remarked. I grunted and looked elsewhere. The ensemble shuffled on. I put the spoon away.