A Shopper’s Tale

A Shoppers Tale

The red shirt

The favourite garment of my earliest days came from my Oupa’s general dealership, Bloch’s of Koffiefontein. It must have been around 1965 that I was given the red shirt. Did it arrive in the post? Did Oupa bring it to Port Elizabeth? Was it given to me when we visited Koffiefontein on a family holiday? I will never know.

This shirt, the memory of which I still adore forty five years later, was long sleeved and made from some newly invented, very warm, synthetic fabric that allowed for an overpowering, luminous  red glow. It may well have been the glorious blaze of this redness that inspired my lifelong love affair with colour, and more, with the pleasures of sight and seeing .For me, as it turned out, this has been a precious and tenuous blessing, rather than simply a part of my birthright.

The only photograph I have of myself wearing the red shirt was taken at the Mac Mac Falls in the then Eastern Transvaal.  My stomach was hurting, as it often seemed to in my childhood, and I had been crying bitterly. Maybe those tears account for my very rosy cheeks – or is it just the super potent reflection of my beloved red shirt?


The word that most sums up my Oupa, Barney Bloch, is ‘mild’. I remember him as being short, fairly frail looking and slightly hunched, with wispy white hair and thick, dark -rimmed glasses. He was a gentle person, who spoke quietly with a thick Yiddish accent. Not that he spoke much -he didn’t seem to have many opinions or expectations.  He was always pleasant but quite removed; there was never anything excitable or animated about him. Ironically, in the last months of his life, as his mind became confused, a little fire emerged. He was periodically fiercely angry, and even threw  a bottle of pee at a nurse who annoyed him… this  kind of behaviour would have been unthinkable before that final chapter.

I only remember one incident in which Oupa and I really interacted- or rather failed to interact in the way I had hoped for. I had just had a dramatic tricycle wipeout, and was lying wailing ostentatiously in the middle of our driveway. Oupa must have been on a visit from Koffiefontein, and for some reason, he was the only other person at home. Since to me this meant that he was standing in for my mother, I felt that it was essential that he rush to my aid before I could possibly arise. It seemed to take hours before he came to my rescue, though; and when he did, instead of comforting me, he chastised me – mildly, of course, but it was still a horrible letdown. As he picked up my trike, he pointed out several times in a shocked and disapproving way that lying there, I was in imminent danger of being squashed by a car. Severely disappointed by his lack of sympathy, I arose reluctantly and limped away from the danger zone.

Oupa was probably quiet by nature. But I wonder if perhaps his extreme reserve had something to do with the enduring shock of his boyhood emigration. Around 1912, when he was about sixteen, he travelled, it is thought with his elder sister Jane (then called Sheyne), from his home town of Telz in Lithuania, to join two of his older brothers, Israel and Louis, in South Africa. He had probably never met either of them before.

This was a time when Lithuanian Jews had been subjected to wave after wave of brutal pogroms at the hands of the Cossacks. In the earliest years of the century, they were slaughtered in their thousands. Young Jewish males were also faced with a ten year conscription period in the Russian army, for which Oupa was eligible.  It is not clear if his parents were still alive or not – it seems likely that both were dead. All that is known is that Oupa and Jane were put on a train to Berlin headed for London and from there boarded a ship to Cape Town. Oupa then joined his brothers, who had a large clothing shop, L and I Bloch, in Bloemfontein. He worked there for several years.

With so little information, the way these two young people experienced their journey is hard to imagine. One thing is certain, though – although Oupa never spoke about his parents or his childhood, he did tell my father that he had found the voyage very difficult.  According to notes compiled  for the family tree, Barney and  Jane were accompanied by an uncle as far as Berlin, and that they were so frightened of being left alone for the rest of the journey that they begged him to continue with them to London. Whether he did or not isn’t clear.

What went through my Oupa’s mind when he said goodbye to his family in Telz? Were he and his sister close? Did they talk about what lay ahead of them?  Were they excited and hopeful or just frightened as their old life literally faded away before their eyes, to be replaced by something entirely unfamiliar?  London must surely have seemed overwhelmingly vast and alien to them. I wonder where they stayed there, before their final voyage…it was probably somewhere in the East End, the part of London to which Jewish immigrants had by then gravitated. It’s likely that I walked along the same streets as they had on my regular Sunday morning visits to the market at Brick Lane when I lived in Hackney about seventy five years later, but I can’t remember ever thinking of this at the time.  I know nothing about their journey to Cape Town either. I wonder how they were treated by the other passengers…Nobody knows.

Oupa’s break with the life he had been born into was permanent. After he left Lithuania, he never again set eyes on the family members he had left behind. There is no record of whether he ever corresponded with them, telephoned them or even thought of them after his arrival in South Africa; and within thirty or so years, history had caught up with them.  Apart from the brothers and sisters who emigrated to South Africa and Israel, the Blochs from Telz are presumed, like so many others, to have been exterminated, either in Hitler’s death camps, or in the forests of Lithuania.

Again, there is no sense at all of how my grandfather found out about these appalling events and the personal loss they entailed, or how this dark knowledge affected him. In fact, like the rest of the Bloch family history, this trauma was never even mentioned during my childhood; and when I learnt about the Holocaust,  it was as though it was something horrible that had happened to other people, people I pitied desperately but who had nothing whatsoever to do with me. It now seems bizarre that I only realised that any of my own blood relatives had been murdered by the Nazis when I was well into my thirties.

Oupa’s shop

I was only four or five years old when I visited Oupa’s shop and I have almost no memory of it. Through the eyes of a tiny child, it was a big, darkish space with high counters and the flash of clothes being moved along a rail. Like the rest of the world, it seemed to be full of friendly but intimidating adults, busy doing the slightly confusing things that they did.

My sister remembers making a brown paper parcel and tying it up with string. The piece of paper she used was taken from a pre-cut pile that sat on the shop counter, next to big glass bottles filled with sweets. My father, who took over the shop twice during his university holidays in the early 1950s, while Oupa was recovering from two heart attacks, speaks of popping one or two of these sweets into his mouth every now and then, as a reward for the tedious hours spent on his feet behind the counter.  He remembers serving a range of people, from local farmers to their impoverished workers, who came in on Saturdays to spend their meagre wages on tiny brown paper packets of sugar, rice and other perishables that were scooped out of big sacks on the floor. According to my father, there was never apartheid in Oupa’s shop – everyone used the same entrance and was treated the same. Is this true? I don’t know.

To me, my father’s most intriguing memory of Bloch’s of Koffiefontein  is that , in keeping with its motto, ‘From a needle to an anchor’, the shop stocked a range of goods so broad that it covered almost every need and desire of the people who shopped there. Today even the assumption of such modesty seems impossibly old fashioned:  in the current era of formidable, mind boggling excess, who would be satisfied with the choice of goods offered by only one shop, even if they lived in Koffiefontein?  Somebody destitute perhaps,  or a Buddhist monk.  My father’s memory of a more innocent time, when enough was enough, underlines the almost unbelievable changes over the past sixty years in what most of us get to see and, at least in theory, choose from, and consequently what we expect and want.


Unlike my grandfather, my granny, Jessie Karpas, was born in South Africa.  She grew up in Koffiefontein, where her family too owned a big shop. After her schooling in Paarl, she married Oupa in what seems to have been a marriage of convenience in 1922 – a merging of merchant families presumably considered advantageous by both parties in the time honoured tradition of shopkeepers  across the world.

Granny parted from Oupa – ‘ran away’ was how I understood it when I was a child,  which made her seem shockingly wicked –when her middle son, my father Basil, was a teenager at boarding school in Bloemfontein, in the mid 1940s. It seems obvious that, whether their alliance was beneficial to their respective families or not, Granny and Oupa were utterly mismatched, and battled to live with one another. My father even remembers  watching Granny chase Oupa around their house with a broom… how this apparently quiet man could have inspired such rage I can’t even begin to speculate.

Their youngest son, Ian, had an ongoing medical problem, and because there were no orthopaedic surgeons nearby, Granny took him to Johannesburg for treatment. It was there that she met her next husband, the glamorously named Max Segal. They married in 1948, and as the story had it, she worked like a slave to keep him lounging about in the silk shirts that he favoured. At first, they were both travellers – I know one of them sold underwear-though according to my father, Max’s  work ethic was always a tad underdeveloped. After a heart attack put an end to what there was of his working life, Granny provided for both of them. By now they were living in Germiston, and Granny ran first a dry cleaning shop and later a toyshop.

Granny too, was glamorous, though I only came to understand this long after her death. When I was a child, her hair was dyed red at a time when older women usually went quietly grey, or at their most flamboyant, sported a purple rinse. She wore bright red lipstick that matched her long red fingernails, and was always elaborately and carefully dressed, often in black or dark colours, sometimes with a fleck of gold lame for good measure.  I knew instinctively that my mother battled to like Granny, but she definitely admired her impeccable sense of style.

After Granny gave up the shop and came to live in Port Elizabeth, she refused to live in an old age home like Oupa and my mother’s mother did. Instead, she insisted on being a permanent guest at the Summerstrand Hotel, a seedy establishment right on the edge of the sea. This hotel disturbed me – the lounge, which was filled with ugly maroon furniture (the beginning of my aversion to this colour, perhaps) was unpleasantly dark and gloomy and always stank of stale cigarette smoke. Granny probably didn’t notice this, though- she liked smoking herself. I remember my mother muttering disapprovingly about the cigarette burns in her sheets, and how she was likely to meet her end by setting herself on fire …she didn’t, though. By the time my family moved to Cape Town in the late 1970s, she was finally forced to succumb to her increasing frailty. She was moved to the Jewish old age home in Vredehoek, where she died quietly in her sleep, without the help of cigarettes.

Now I admire Granny’s spirit, but when I was a child, I found it difficult to warm to her. She was too worldly for my taste – compared to my mother’s mother, a guileless, devout, quaintly old fashioned woman who kept her long grey hair in a bun, and had never worn a pair of trousers in her life, Granny, sitting on the stoep before Sunday lunch resolutely puffing away through her long black cigarette holder, was the devil incarnate.

Granny’s shop

I vaguely remember my one and only visit to Granny’s toyshop in Germiston. As well as the toys, the shop stocked stationery; but not surprisingly, I was far more interested in the toys. There was a selection of children’s books too, and on that visit, each of us was allowed to choose one. I came away clutching a piece of classic 1960s kitsch – a  board book , I think called ’Baby Animals’, filled with glossy images of  puppies and kittens, foals and lambs, photographed against trees covered in white and pink blossoms and an artificially blue sky. Though I felt that there were too many horse pictures- I didn’t really like horses – to me, the book was magnificent. I kept it for years, and wish I still had it now.

Strangely, although I remember staring with acquisitive yearning at the shelves packed with toys, I can’t recall any details about them. Maybe this is because I somehow  knew I was never going to own any of them… they were only there to look at. Now I think that they were there to long for.

On shopping greed

My recognition that the toys in Granny’s shop were destined for other, unknown children, and  were only available to me as things to desire in a hopeless way may simply have signified my obedient response to  an earlier  lecture about acceptable behaviour in the shop. But I now think that this realisation was important.

Consciously or probably unconsciously, this understanding  became an essential element of my ongoing relationship to shops and shopping, to the ever-expanding realm of things made for people to want and buy and live with and throw away and replace or add to.  Long before any larger principles or values to do with consumption or inequality or later the environment were part of my mental or verbal repertoire, I realised that shopping is about looking somewhat more than it is about owning, though a degree of hunger to possess is an intrinsic part of the experience.
This isn’t big news, of course. Unless one is part of the super- rich elite, or a thief (arguably one and the same thing), looking and not buying is probably the only way to survive the horrible consumerist frenzy that is so much a part of our capitalist reality.  And even so, one needs to get the balance just right. Sadly, I have to confess that my success in containing my  greed has been limited. Despite my awareness of who actually makes the things we buy and how this might play out in their own lives, I can’t make any kind of claim for an unshakeable lack of desire – even in my young adulthood, when I discovered that property is theft, and considered myself a marxist along with most of the other students I knew, I had my burning fantasies of possession. Though this greedy side has clashed violently with my principles, it has often got the better of me, and the fantasies have occasionally culminated in acts of shopping folly that were repented at leisure.

Usually these madnesses  were inspired by the craving for certain clothes –I think of the black silky bomber jacket with a  red, yellow and green emblem on the back, and ‘Zulu Nation’ embroidered on the sleeve, that I bought in Camden, for 60 pounds in about 1990. This fabulous and for me very costly item, in London a symbol of  the country I so desperately missed,  instantly transmogrified into a potentially shameful embarrassment  in the Durban of the early 1990s that I returned to, where to wear ‘Zulu Nation’ on your sleeve was to take the wrong side in a bloody war… I painstakingly unpicked the embroidery, which messed up the jacket for ever more.

A shopper’s tale

Please allow me to boast. In recognition of my considerable staying power, my quirky but particular tastes and my laser sharp bargain spotting skills, I have, on occasion, been awarded the title of ‘Queen of Shopping’. I have spent many hours trawling through every possible kind of shop, considering, comparing, gazing , imagining, sometimes groaning with thwarted desire, sometimes laughing and shaking my head in incredulous horror at the stupendous, the outrageous surfeit.

Over the years, my focus has changed. At some stage, without really noticing it, I turned some commercial corners. A part of me had always been fascinated by cheap and kitschy trifles; now gradually, I began to lose any taste for the luxurious, the upmarket, those often discreet but quite unmistakeable markers of worldly success. And then some time or another, probably because I was short of cash at first, but later just because I wanted to, I said to hell with fine, costly things. I eschewed the Egyptian cotton sheets, the hifi systems I had never quite bought, the Italian designer metallic kitchenware, the thick, soft towels and duck down duvets.  I turned my back on the decadent wave upon wave of lavish, expensive commodities that so elegantly exemplify the comfort and privilege of us lucky, pampered few.

Now, I zoomed in on the mass produced merchandise intended for the shopping multitudes, who are compelled to settle for less. I roamed through giant, chilly warehouses filled with over – preserved groceries, garish vases, chunky mugs and glasses and crates of teeth- blitzing fizzy drinks. I regarded with great interest the plastic flowers, the giant packets of orange worm-shaped chips, and the equally poisonous looking pink sweeties. Then of course, there were the toys. Boys’ toys –cars of all sizes and weaponry of all descriptions – in stark contrast to the girls’ stuff: tawdry dollies with golden hair, bobbly mauve bangles and rows and rows of bastardised Minnie Mouses and Hello Kittys posing on hairclips.

From there, it was just a leisurely amble to my real spiritual home, my shopping Nirvana – the land of the second hand. To the charity shops, the fetes and the flea markets. To other people’s cast offs. To the worn, the battered, the recycled. The slightly used but still good.  To the old fashioned and a bit broken. To the randomly stuffed cardboard boxes of deceased estates and of those who are moving to Australia. To the china cups and saucers and serviette rings and cocktail sticks and cake forks and Perry Como records of days gone by. To the funny ornaments, to the peculiar fridge magnets,  to the ugly and the beautiful  souvenirs of places like Pisa and Rio and Winchester Cathedral, to the scraps of lace, the piles of  old You Magazines, the botched  oil paintings, the badly made wooden shelves and the slightly baggy hand sewn dresses. The black and white framed photographs of  people who have long been lying in their graves, the bowls of buttons, the broken necklaces, the glass teardrops shed by chandeliers, the licence plates from Port Elizabeth Municipality circa 1917, the bizarre ornaments made from whales’ teeth by bored men on whaling boats, the faded green and yellow tupperware, the sticky mountains of Macdonald’s toys, the single earrings that silently mourn the loss of their mates, the slightly stripped screwdrivers, the plastic red Indians who won’t stand up properly, the  R5 vintage Disney charms, the paperbacks with minute  print, the manky  tartan hats and feathered hats and ancient  Jesus pictures and ladies gloves too tiny to fit anyone , the 1920s postcards, the rusty cake tins with lids showing festive scenes and quizzical kittens, the faded Fisher Price telephones, the elderly kaleidoscopes with dusty lenses and little plastic jewels that make a dry, tinkly noise as they cascade into place, the R10 bags of mismatched Barbie accessories, the granny style costume jewellery, the silver knives and forks that always make your food taste horrible when you try to eat with them, the multicoloured reels of cotton and shocking pink balls of wool, the painstakingly embroidered tray cloths and the printed children’s hankies from the 1960s when I was a child and never had one … These are the things that call my name.

On the missing part of Grey Street

No doubt I was stoned the first time I went shopping in Grey Street in about 1984. I always was, in those days, as were all my close companions – I think now that partly, this may have been a doomed attempt to keep the ugliness of the times at bay. Or maybe I was just fitting in with the other idiots.  In any event, it’s pretty certain that the riches of Grey Street revealed themselves in a surreal haze, enhanced by the extreme humidity of summertime in Durban…or was it one of those perfect, balmy days that call themselves winter?  I was stoned, unfortunately, so I can’t remember.

What is beyond doubt is the extraordinary pleasure I took in shopping in the casbah, with its marigolds and murthis, its henna and Vicco vajradanti toothpaste, its mingled smells of incense, spices and new fabric and its intensely evocative Zulu traditional music, blasting slightly distorted from the record shop at the entrance to Ajmeri Arcade, and fading behind me as I made my way past the watchmaker who sat working in his window, past the wedding shop on the right and the muthi shop on the left, to the rectangle of white light at the top of the passage.

The window displays alone would have been enough to make my visits worthwhile. A little black and white cow stood for years amongst the old fashioned adverts for worm medicine in the chemist shop window, not far from the fabulously retro Victory Lounge. Here, rows of milkshake coloured burfi and gulab jamuns were lovingly arranged in the window, their gorgeousness greatly enhanced by a frame of pink neon strips with little curlicues at their ends, which glowed all day long and probably all night too.

Grey Street was full of characters. I remember the beautiful eyes of an elderly African Muslim beggar, who spent his Fridays in front of the mosque. I was drawn to his tiny, white haired companion too, who once took me to visit a kramat, I think in Cato Manor. Was his name Abdullah? I made friends with a few of the shopkeepers too. I especially liked Omar, the Rastafarian Muslim, whose corner shop had almost nothing in it, and who once took me home to meet his wife and admire his collection of badges and rings. But the shopkeeper I remember the best was a man who wouldn’t make friends with me. This overweight, greasy haired uncle resolutely refused to smile, no matter how many black plastic babies and mini TV sets I bought from him. His wife, who liked to wear pink saris, had huge, dark rings under her eyes, and seemed rather weighed down by life with her grumpy companion, who she always called ’Daddy.’

I shopped in the Grey Street area again and again when I lived in Durban in the 90s, and no hours of my life have been happier. A vegetable vendor in Prince Edward Street told me once that Mondays are a sad day in Grey Street, and I realised that she was right. Timing was everything. Generally I chose Friday mornings. It was best, especially in summer, to arrive early, when the air was slightly fresher, and the incense lit by the Hindu shopkeepers at their casual little shrines was still burning.  There was a palpable sense of anticipation, perhaps of the day’s trade, perhaps of the weekend ahead, as I began my meandering between the noisy dazzle of the streets, and the cooler, dimmer interiors, with their jam packed shelves and jumbled bins of goods. By noon, the crowded streets were shimmering in the heat and the noise had reached a crescendo. Frowning against the overwhelming glare despite my hat and sunglasses, I would make my escape just as the shopkeepers began closing their doors and pulling down their shutters in preparation for Mosque.

Although I could never quite name it, there was something puzzling about shopping in Grey Street. I often felt as though I was chasing something elusive, something obstinately fugitive,  that always managed to slip away before I could name it. I speculated about this mystery so often that I was teased about it – I was a person perpetually looking for the missing part of Grey Street.

What was this feeling? To this day, I’m not quite sure. At first, I decided that I was pining for a certain maze of passageways that we had stumbled through on my earliest few visits, and which had soon made way for a different shopping configuration. I remembered mainly lurid nylon nighties and underwear being on sale there, but I wondered if perhaps there had been other things for sale, things that I had missed out on and was now longing to examine, even though I didn’t know what they were… Then, after three weeks in India a few years later, my perspective shifted. In comparison to the streets and bazaars of Old Delhi, Varanasi and Jaipur, the charms of Grey Street were suddenly rather pitiful.  I decided that my feeling was to do with the size and location of Grey Street. It was, after all, a tiny area, covering only a few blocks, so that at best it was only able to give a diluted taste of shopping in India. The missing part was in India, I thought. In fact, the missing part was India.

But now, many years later, I think that I was wrong. The missing part of Grey Street couldn’t simply have related to the changes that had taken place there and the things one could no longer buy.  I feel sure now that even if every single original shop was replaced by a cell phone shop or a chicken takeaway – which sadly is not that unlikely – something of the character of the place would somehow remain.

My second theory was faulty too: Grey Street had always been a hybrid, a mixture of India and Africa. If the missing part had anything to do with another place, surely that place would be Mombasa or Zanzibar… But no.  Now I believe that my feeling had something to do with history. I think it was a kind of nostalgia of the imagination, a longing for a Grey Street that I had never been to and could never hope to visit, and a thousand stories, not all of them happy, that I was never going to hear.

The blue shirt

In August 2009, I was able to go back to Brick Lane. This was a return to the beginning, my introduction to weekly worship in the Church of the Holy Rubbish. At Brick Lane I had wandered almost every Sunday for most of my three years in London. At 7 am, I would stride briskly to the bus stop- sometimes I almost ran-  and after an impatient ride along the deserted Kingsland Road, there I was, jumping off the bus, scanning the horizon and sniffing the air, ready for the joy to begin.

In those days, in the late 80s, Brick Lane, like most of London, was utterly filthy, and parts of the market were literally small rubbish heaps. Piles of yellowing, crumpled paper, bits of broken machinery and things impossible to recognise or name were randomly thrown together within a maze of decaying and filthy lanes and yards, demarcated by sections of rotting fence and brickwork so old that it was black. Other sections sold more conventional market goods. While throngs of shoppers jostled their way along the narrow alleyways, the traders competed with one another to pull them in with their gobbled out banter, a few of them even perching on makeshift podiums. They sold an array of cheap kitchen cleaners, miracle vegetable peelers, various kinds of hardware and mops and workaday clothing, and I passed them all by. I was heading for the second hand furniture, the trays of broken jewellery and obscure metal badges, the tangled piles of vintage clothing and general miscellaneous tat further down the market…I feasted my eyes , though I never had the money or the space at home to buy much.

Many of the Brick Lane traders were meaty young cockneys, who had perfected the art of wearing nothing more than a t shirt and jeans in the iciest winter weather, and hideous white trainers all year round. Others came straight out of Dickens – haggard, shabby, red nosed old men, selling a collection of rusty screws, misshapen shoes and chipped crockery straight off the grimy pavements.  I will never forget the vile, raucous cackling of a group of these old men one Sunday morning, as they watched the painful dance of a pair of copulating dogs, howling pitifully as they struggled to separate…Brick Lane wasn’t pretty, but it was always interesting.

Now I found a Brick Lane that was almost unrecognisable. Like the rest of the city, the area was transformed. The filth, the chaos, was no more. The shops had changed too; though Blackmans, the famous  Doc Martens shop, and a few curry houses and old style cafs were still there, the leather and clothing wholesalers had all but gone, to be replaced  by trendy coffee shops, eateries, and expensive vintage record shops and clothing shops. Naturally, the shoppers were entirely different too:  almost all of them were young, and many were probably tourists. But the biggest surprise came a little further down the market. As I made my way over a bridge that I couldn’t remember, I saw the first of scores of glamorous, adolescent Asian vendors, mostly waif like girls, sitting side by side on the pavement with rows and rows of highly fashionable second hand street wear laid out in front of them. On the right hand side of the road, on the furthest edge of the bridge, was another unmistakeable sign of change – a green coconut stall, run by an unfriendly Rastafarian. Here I loitered for a moment, weakly eyeing his table laden with my favourite drink in all the world, packed by God into perfect, strange containers. But the coconuts were costly and my money was running out. Resolutely I turned away, and carried on walking, while the Rastaman stared into the distance with a bored, disdainful expression on his face.

Perhaps half an hour later, while I was trudging back to the beginning of the market, I happened to veer off along a little side street. All my life, I have longed for a time machine. Now, to my amazement, I found myself time travelling without one. Within a few metres, I was back. Back in the old Brick Lane, in a yard I clearly remembered and that still looked exactly the same. In this moment of retrieval and nostalgia, of delighted recollection, I scanned the merchandise, and came across a long sleeved shirt, hanging on a circular rail along with multitudes of others. On a white background, tiny blue lines and shapes made up a repeating pattern, so that the effect was blue. The shirt was small, for a man’s shirt, small enough to fit a scrawny woman like me, and quite exactly the kind of shirt I love the most. It cost me five pounds. For all I know, the burly man who sold it to me might have been a youngster working on his dad’s stall in that same yard 20 years earlier.

I stuffed the blue shirt into my bag. It has been my favourite ever since. I was so happy, so very, very happy that I needed to celebrate; and though I was tired and my feet hurt, I made my way back over the bridge I still couldn’t remember, to the spot where the first pair of Japanese groovesters sat coolly surveying their many interested customers, and the Rastafarian, slightly jollier now that the sun was hot and the crowds were swarming in, chatted loudly to his neighbours. It was time to buy myself a green coconut.

Joanne Bloch 2010