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Mark Stringer's Blog

Tramp l'Oeil

"We're safe still for a few months aren't we?" His hands were grasping at my shoulder, his body odour was reaching for my stomach. "I mean just now, February that's spring fashions, yeah spring fashions, but we're safe yet for a few months. Safe for a few months yet. It's the warm weather the first warm sunny Saturday, that's when it'll start." He released his grip on me and gave a little giggle. I moved my arm again. I breathed a little easier, but still through my mouth. "Course it'll be something different, and there's no way of knowing."

His head was hanging low, he seemed to be staring at a patch of pavement a few feet to his right, unconvincingly practicing the aversion of his gaze. "Year before the year before last it was the sweaters, starting off light-coloured at the shoulders and getting darker and darker. I could deal with it then, I mean y'know, I was still… Year before last it was those little pink and turquoise cardies and then last year…" His grip on my shoulder tightened again, I could feel the bones meeting. "Last year it was the teasing tight T's. Arghh! Ooooh!" and off he went, once more around the park his mouth open wide in a perma-scream his arms cart-wheeling, showering cuddling couples, dog-walkers, bright beds full of daffodils and himself in what was left in his can of special brew.

I could have run away. He wouldn't have noticed. It would have been easy but then he was back and I hadn't moved. "Trouble is they'll all wear them won't they? Not just the slender, petite ones who they're meant to enhance but the big girls who don't need it the, full-size girls, the voluptuous girls." He was yelling at the sky now, he was scaring the birds. "It'll be like Jaws 3D all over again, everyone'll be ducking in their seats and wetting themselves. They ought to be careful!" he yelled at a passing accountant, "they'll have somebody's eye out!" The accountant hurried on.

And now he was back again, whispering in my ear, grinding my shoulder slapping me around the face with his booze breath "But that's not the worse though is it? Want to know the worst? The worst isn't the colour enhancements, nor the optical illusions. No. The worst my friend is the messages, the secret - what am I saying?, 'secret'? - the public messages, the screaming innuendoes. Course there's the unsubtle stuff like 'PORN STAR' and 'I WILL IF YOU WILL…' but then, then there's the others, the real mind fucks. 'IT'S ALWAYS THE QUIET ONES' - what are you supposed to make of that?" "Forget about it," I snarled, "it's not meant for you, not anymore." "I know, I know," he sobbed. "So why do they do it? Why don't they shoot straight at their targets instead of using a blunderbuss? Why do they have to kill all the fish in the lake with their pert little grenades?" "Ok that's enough," I said, pushing him over backwards into a poinsettia, "I'm leaving." "We'll have the last laugh anyway," he shouted after me, not sounding convinced as he dusted himself for berries, "I mean how are they going to explain it to their children? 'Mummy - why does daddy have a face like a baboon's arse?' - 'Well my little one, that's because just before you were born there was a wide-boy mockney chef on the television and so men with faces like baboon's bottoms were very popular - for a while.' It's not going to work is it? Ha, ha, ha?"

His laughter echoed around the park, which was drying out under a warm spring sun. All over the land girls were unzipping their breathable rainwear.

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