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Day 6

Carrier bag, check, towel, check, smokeability, check, check, cheÖ.wait a minute, that packet of skins looks nearly depleted, bad news, I have a feeling I might be needing quite a few of them before the day gets much older. Right, nothing for it but to pay a visit to the rudest newsagent in the uncivilised world, the unfriendly face of sheets'n'sweets, our neighbourhood doom monger. There's still the strangest feeling in the air though, a sort of highly charged anticipatory pulse echoing through the atmosphere bringing with it a sense of great events yet to be unleashed on the unwitting population. Calm down, get a grip, whatever's happening doesnít seem to be affecting me, or is it ?, no ,I donít think so but how would I know? Down on street level now and the faces rushing past me look as blank as ever but today there's something different about them. You don't normally get a good look at people on the street for one very good reason, they've got their heads down just like you have, but not now, now everything's changed yet everything's stayed the same, everyone's still dashing about on their day-to-day missions, not taking any notice of the world around them, not even acknowledging that theyíre one among billions, but suddenly their heads are up, suddenly they look like their moving with a purpose, and even scarier, it's a common porpoise.

Even the paper shop looks different somehow, I know what it is, the double glass doors are open. Usually they're firmly closed and it's dark inside in a highly successful attempt to ensure that no-one goes in and bothers the staff with pitiful attempts to purchase goods. Today it's wide open, the lights are on and there's a steady stream of punters flowing in one side and out the other.† Weird.† So, all I have to do to get in is to join the inward stream of news seeking humanity.† Sounds easy, looks easy, but my first attempt falls well short.† I canít get near the door past the flow of bodies, theyíre all walking in step leaving just enough space between them for the action of their limbs.† Maybe Iím going about this the wrong way, all I need to do is to get in step.† align my movements with the cogs of the people-machine.† Right, a couple of deep breaths, everything totally girded, watch the crowd, see the pattern, wait for the next opportunity and Ö quick step to the right, accelerate forwards, keep it going, Iím in and running. †The shelves flash past and the counter at the end of the shop rushes towards me, time to get off this ride.† An ungainly lurch to the right and I stagger off the tracks of the advancing people train.† Iím clear.† All that grief for a total distance travelled of 15 and a bit feet.† Still, no-one seems to have noticed my social ineptitude in comparison to their new-found super co-operative mode.† I can see the action from here.† As the induhviduals get to the apogee of the circuit, thereís a slight hesitation in step, right hand out and .. grab the rolled up newspaper being proffered by the wide eyed retailer.† Think of it as passing the baton in the 400m relay at the paper boy Olympics.† Trying to not really be there, I edge up to the end of the counter to get a better look at the pile of papers stacked and bound waiting for distribution.†


A single image with a towering caption covers the front page.

Iím stunned, more than just a bit taken aback, I mean shocked to the core cos my chestís turned to ice and electricity spikes up my shoulders and through the tips of my ears.† That image, itís just too obvious surely, this must be some attempt at crossing journalism with comedy.† Ill advised at best.

ďYou look like someone shaved an ewok and kicked it through TopShopĒ

ďWha.Er.Mm, er, sorry are you talking to meĒ.† I can hardly get my mouth to form the words.† Partly from the suddenness of having to spring into verbal action but mainly from the fact that no-oneís spoken to me or even appeared to comprehend my existence for days.† Until now.† The winner of Mr Miserable Sod UK 1994-1998 and again in 2000, my unfriendly local supplier of †obscure paraphernalia, has spoken to me.† The best Iíve ever managed from him before was a slight nod of the head to acknowledge my transaction.† And even that might just have been him kipping off.† Now all I get is sartorial abuse.† I wait for his return in our game of conversational tennis, and Iím still waiting as he turns away, picks up a broom and begins carefully sweeping the shop floor. †Charming !

The front door swings shut as the last of the chain of interconnected automata exits leaving just a faint rush of air pressure in their wake.† Thereís a red LED clock built into the stylish Embassy fag rack, it reads 10:00:00.

Without really focusing, I pick up a copy of the Daily Archetype and wander unsteadily out of the shop.† Iím heading towards the rainbow halo formed by the morning sun striking the aluminium door frame and the image strikes the front of my cortex. †It hurts. †Opposing speculations tumble over each other creating an eddy in My consciousness.† The miniature whirlpool stabilises for a brief instant before collapsing in on itself creating a single, coherent pattern.† A thought.† Thanks Dana.† Itís not a pretty picture.† The invading force of alien imperialists are using an image created on earth over 60 years ago. †Before anyone had sent anything more substantial than radio interference beyond the confines of the Terran atmosphere.† So, the only logical conclusion, Captain, is that the galactic interlopers have successfully probed the shared imagery of the planetary population.† They are simply reflecting our own perceptions back at us.† We see what we expect to see.† Brilliant.† Unless of course they do happen to look like that, in which case my theory is well and truly stuffed.

Crossing the road, I carefully negotiate both the organic and mechanised traffic, and Iím struck by yet another flash of blinding insight.†

BuggerÖÖ forgot the skins.


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