Straight Road / Johny Brown

 Here is the 2nd instalment of  Straight Road. A tale of modern life in the metropolis .Its April ( The cruellest month ?)  David has acquired a much coveted  allotment plot, close to home , business is going well, the good life beckons and David meets Kerene … 

cov21

 

 

APRIL

He knew this because he had some how managed to acquire a plot of much coveted allotment a street or two away from the shop, really just a stone’s throw, and he had planted a great many seeds and bulbs, both fruit and flower, in as organic a manner as he could. Things were coming up roses, thistles, fennel, marrow, vine, as well as a small but sturdy olive tree.

One lunch break when he was busy watering, an estate agent type, all smart suit and smarter phone, pitched up. She was not the kind of woman David was used to. She looked fashionably alien standing in the earth and leaf of the plot and he found himself to be quite dazzled by her fabric efficient glamour. She introduced herself, as Kerene then got straight to the point.

Kerene informed David that he if he were to erect, say three, large sheds, on the land, and put his energy to sub letting for some tenants she had in mind, she could harvest David a substantial income and indeed when she mentioned a large monthly sum David’s jaw dropped. He was stunned yet intrigued and provoked enough to ask her to take a seat and fully explain.

David made a pot of tea using Nettle, Valerian, St Johns Wort and other herbs he was growing. He informed her how good this was, for not only settling the urinary tract, but also calming the central nerves which in turn had a stabilising effect on the immune system which then benefitted greatly the physical and mental health of a person overall, happy days.

Kerene took a sip, but then looked at him and smiled and said she’d pass, and that anyway, she was planning to drop in at Paul for a Grande Latte as she headed back to her office. David shrugged and poured himself a cup of spleen revitalising brew. He was no stranger to Latte’s himself but found Paul quite generic and their coffee a bit samey.

He offered up the names of some better more individual coffee houses in the area and she noted them in her smartphone. He further recommended she transferred allegiance to a double macchiato. Kerene disagreed and they indulged in some quite sprightly exchange. She had an hour to kill and so David invited her to stay. Watering the plants could wait awhile.

An hour or two passed in this way. He drinking his tea and her polishing very red nails, the both of them sat under the bird feeder in the afternoon sun of a blossoming spring day, a magpie hopping amongst the runner beans and the odd siren sound over on the high street. They were both conscious of the fact they were absconding from the world a while.

David was enjoying the background demographic knowledge she was sharing on the London marketplace, its property it’s politics and prices. A cat that strayed into the garden every now and then crossed their path. They both leant down at the same time to stroke it. The cat accepted the attention but a moment before moving on. The stroke kind of lingered.

David stared hard at Kerene caught as she was in the saturating sun. She had very vivid eyes and abundant hair. He felt a bit Nu-Lad all of a sudden. They both fell to daydreams. After an hour they snapped out of this spell and Kerene made one final pitch for the land, throwing out a more generous offer, he resisted, but gave her his contact and she smiled then left.

He leant on his spade chewing some raw kale. She was offering a lot of money, and money he could use, but that wasn’t remotely the point. The point was the legacy that this plot of land represented, a space where he and his three staff could find retreat from the outside world; not have the outside world come crashing in as some kind of profiteers refugee camp.

Besides they were taking the time to grow produce for their new stall at the local farmer’s market and this was very much tied up with the whole philosophy of the shop. The perishables they were selling had to have the same unique spirit as the wearable’s and he wanted the one to go with the other. His staff shared his gentle Edenic vision and he was grateful for that.

He loved and truly respected his three co-workers and always treat them as proper human beings with the emphasis on equality and creativity. He paid very well too, and in return he would let them buy him a craft beer or two every Thursday night in the small bar that existed just off the high street. A few sensible Pale Ales and an informal chance to talk shop, perfection!

The pub was called Craft and Son and was very homely in a Nu-Boho manner. The bar looked lived in, but not too shabby, and sold five choice ales on draught, two pressed ciders and one German wheat beer. There was a free jukebox that stocked ancient CD’s but clever conversation made the place. As civilised hangouts went, there wasn’t a place like it in the city.

It was the kind of space creative’s in striped t-shirts and khaki shorts could allow their children to express themselves in whilst they deconstructed the week with associates. They were his kind of people and, after a beer or two, David was glad to know this was his bar. Indeed most of the chaps in there were already getting discretionary discounts in David’s shop.

MAY

The shop he opened was called, quite simply ‘David’. It had a racing green frontage with the word ‘David’ picked out in gold. The wooden floorboards inside were an obscure shade of rural stone, unvarnished, and left to purposefully chip as customers trod his boards. He installed an espresso machine and served free coffee to a knowing band of customers.

He had racks installed outside of the shop so that his clientele could safely and securely padlock their bikes whilst they perused his designs. Occasionally there were cup cakes to go with the free coffee and on cloudy days, flapjacks, and tea from the natty range of tartan thermos flasks that he sold. Worn bird books replaced shiny style magazines on the counter.

David believed in his retail philosophy one hundred percent. He sold Modern English Tailoring that looked as good on a mountain ramble as it did in the city street. Discreet, well-crafted clothes were his passion and he sold a lot of accessories, including hair grooming and sunglasses. He wore his own designs and affected a beard that was just the right side of Hipster.

He looked good, very good, and felt even better. David wolfed vitamins devoured greens worked out three times weekly in the local gym, enjoyed a sauna with male friends once a week and listened to house orientated sounds such as Jamie XX. There were plans for Berlin and New York and somewhere else. This man was the modern city and the modern city he.

 

Summer was coming closer and closer with every day and record temperatures were forecast right across the whole social media spectrum. David was so glad he had made the move to the big city for himself and for Susan. Provincialism had always felt like a blemish on his soul and lately he had felt his spirit manifest as resembling a creature quite unrestrained.

Susan stayed true to her end of the bargain and cleaned the apartment above the shop and cooked for the brother when he came upstairs, though truth be told he didn’t come up early that many nights. David would work late in the shop and then relax with fellow artisans who relished having this dynamic new and nicely groomed craftsman in their midst.

They took great delight in introducing him to fresh and as yet undiscovered parts of town. Sometimes they would cycle to galleries but more often than not they would peruse the street art that blessed the walls in many parts of the metropolis. David even had his own stickers printed up at Moo.com, an outline of a pigeon with ‘David’ in gold on a backdrop of racing green.

The pigeon became the shops symbol, very craft. He would cycle around adhering the stickers to lampposts and walls and chronicled each one with an instagram snap, which he then posted on his own Tumblr page. He balanced his love of Jamie XX style modern house with an appreciation of new folk, both sounds complementing each other on the laptop in the shop.

The sheer diversity of the people here amazed him and he made sure to absorb as much of it as possible. The Shard was so ingrained in the consciousness now it felt like the stately structure had been with him forever, but there were 26 new

 towers that Boris the Mayor was busy birthing along the river and David thrilled to see these going up.

And on the other side of the river in the City of London itself David would scoot right into the Barbican and indulge his passion for pure modernist brutalism. John Wesley Walk was quite his favourite concretopia and he often dipped into the Museum of London itself, he liked the Roman and immediate Post 2nd World War periods best. Wow, here he was, London.

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