Believable Dragons
Practical parenting

A horse's view

Where I sit at the computer is between the two windows of the upstairs front room, with a horse's view of the street: I can see everything slightly to each side, but nothing in front of my nose. It's almost embarrassingly symmetrical, with Victorian semis very like my own stretching away to left and right.

This Sunday morning (yes, I know I should be Getting On With It) two neighbours are washing their cars, one visible from each window. To the right is a man I know slightly, a substantial husband and father in khaki shorts and a grey tee-shirt, with the ruddy skin of fair genes long exposed to sun and wind. His Lexus saloon is as plump and sleek and glossy as a six-foot Asiatic otter. They haven't had it long, this car, and he (the husband, not the otter) has three different cloths, a large pot of what looks like flourescent yellow wax, and a very cool-looking MP3 player plugged into his ears. He polishes without hurry, feeling each curve and angle, but the job's nearly done: he does it most weeks.

To the left is a new face: a woman a bit younger than me, in combat trousers and hennaed hair like an electric shock against her purple tee-shirt. The car is a G-reg Peugeot, and it's a much longer job. I can see that the seats have those covers you put on when the native upholstery is too shabby to be borne. On the roof and bonnet the paint is dull and rough-looking, and now that the car's clean, she's rubbing wax into it more like a nurse than a lover, treating scratches and blisters and sticky bits, making it well.

For some reason the contrast between the two, each in their frame, makes me want to giggle. True, there's a good, Disney-grade comic contrast in the shape and size of the two neighbours. And I know - which you can't - that the man almost never drives his car. He goes to work on a scooter, a round of beef sitting on a congestion-charge-avoiding robin. The car stays behind for his wife and three children, two of whom have their own licences, and drive the family's 'second' car. I also know - which you can't - that the woman lives in one of the demi-semis, because these houses divide very nicely into two flats to be profitably rented out.

When I started this blog I swore it wouldn't be about what I had for breakfast or any of the other things which give blogging a bad name. So I ought to wind up this post, Pause for Thought style, with a neat little generalisation that provides a smidgin of profondeur, gilding the day's forthcoming banality with the illusion of intellectual interest.

But I shan't. These observations - I can hardly call them an anecdote - have no point. They go nowhere and say nothing, except possibly that most people conform in most ways to the stereotype of their kind of person. I observed these two for a while, and it made no difference to them, and very little to me. I don't suppose this post makes much difference to you, either, except to point out that all three parties to it - them, me, you - exist. Existence - the world as it is - is where we all start from. Who knows what happens next?

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