Contemporary short fiction, poetry and more

A guide to the City of London

I love days like this. I wake up with the sun, and as soon as I breathe in upon rising I know it is going to be a hot day. London often seems warmer than where I used to live, but this July day is going to be a scorcher.

I don’t have a watch, and these tall buildings mean that I can’t see the sun at the moment, but I can tell you it is about 4:30 am, give or take ten minutes. Don’t ask me how I know. I just know.

I’ve got a plastic bowl, which is nice and clean, and spoon, and some porridge oats which I got from the “Weigh and Save” when I went to see a mate of mine in Streatham. Brilliant value, that place. I would have bought more, but I don’t like to have to carry too much. All I need is some milk. Two pints should do me for today. I drink one of them while it is nice and cold, and I put most of the other on my cereal. If I see a stray cat somewhere, I pour some into my other bowl for it. Some people say you shouldn’t give milk to cats, but the strays I see always seem to appreciate it.

I like to be selective about where I get the milk from. I tend to favour banks and investment companies. We are near Lombard Street, and so there should be rich pickings round here. If I’m lucky, I might get a newspaper as well. I prefer the Guardian. I’ll read the Times, Financial Times or Telegraph if available. That new ‘i’ or whatever they call it is all right, but I draw the line at any of the tabloids, especially the Mail. When I say “I would not wipe my arse on it” I mean that quite literally.

Now I have had my breakfast and secured some reading material, I will have a look for some money.

I need to walk for a bit now, which is fine: my feet are nice and clean with toenails cut with my new scissors, and I have got a pair of suede desert boots which I was given by a friend of mine which are reasonably new and ideally suited to the warmer weather. My destination is one of those long, straight, residential or shopping-parade streets with parking meters on both sides. The cars have not arrived yet, at this time. My favourite is one where the rising sun is visible at one end. What I do is stand at that end, with the sun behind me, and I crouch down very low, sometimes even lying on the floor if there is no-one about. What I am looking for is the glint of coins which dropped out of people’s pockets when they were getting change for the meter. Pound coins are surprisingly common. There is something about them which means that they make a very dull noise when they hit the ground, and so a dropped one is often not noticed. I wonder how long it will be before they abolish the penny. You can’t buy anything for a penny now. Did you know that they changed how they make them, because the old cupro-nickel cost more than the face value of the coin?

I’ve found a total of four pounds and seventy-three pence. About average, I suppose. Five pounds would have been nice: enough for a shower, which I try to have at least once a week, and preferably twice a week in the summer. I’ll come back again at dusk, just when the street lights are coming on. They sometimes pick out coins that the early-morning sun misses.

Next I will go round the back of some of the restaurants, and get something for lunch. I fancy Italian today. I wish I had a bottle of Valpolicella to go with it.

After lunch, I think I will go and find a nice quiet back-alley somewhere, and have a snooze until the evening. We can go somewhere else tomorrow, if you like.


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