An attempt to co-ordinate and add a much-needed element of self-discipline to a writing project. It's called "The Passerby", and is set in the here and now. It's in diary format, partly because it serves the narrative's purpose, and partly because the page-a-day design may help me keep going. Doing it in public might help too, as will any ideas/comments/grumbles that people feel kind enough to chip in along the way...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Passerby: Chapter 12: Monday 18th July

The disciples said to Jesus, “We know that you will depart from us. Who is to be our leader?”
Jesus said to them, “Wherever you are, you are to go to James the Righteous, for whose sake heaven and earth came into being.”

Most mornings there is one of those magazine sellers outside the book shop. The sort that wear badges and look up and down the street all the time. I think they’re looking up and down trying to guess who’s going to buy their magazines and who isn’t. There are two magazine sellers who work outside the shop. They are friends and take it in turns to be there, I think. One has mad hair and always looks like I do when I haven’t shaved for four or five days. He’s wasn’t there today. It was the other one.

He calls himself Jimbo. He says his name all the time. Other sellers that I’ve seen, like the ones near the train stations and the one by the Marks and Spenders where Alan gets his sandwiches from, all say the same thing. They say the name of the magazine over and over again, but really slowly and loudly. And sometimes people buy one and smile at them and sometimes they don’t and either they do a sort of sad shrug to say sorry or else they pretend like the seller’s not there. Jimbo just talks about himself all day out loud.

Get your Big Issue from Jimbo he says. Jimbo pretty much guarantees not to spend the money on clean needles or fresh string for Jimbo’s dog. Don’t be fooled by lesser merchants of this august publication, get your fix of tramp-friendly news and views right here at Jimbo’s Alfresco Emporium. Step right up ladies and gentlemen especially if your tetanus shots are up to date because Jimbo hardly ever bites a customer.

He talks like that all day every day when he’s there. He keeps going and only stops when someone buys a magazine. When that happens he kind of tap-dances on the spot and says Jimbo’s dancing with joy everyone Jimbo’s dancing for joy if you want to keep Jimbo dancing then keep on buying.

Jimbo likes it outside the bookshop and he talks about that too. Jimbo’s outside the bookshop ladies and gentlemen and Jimbo’s wares are cheaper than what’s on offer inside. If reading’s your drug then deal with Jimbo. All articles guaranteed uncut and pure. Jimbo turns around and around. He likes to check people on the way in and the way out of the book shop. Jimbo’s here to rid you of your liberal guilt and your change he says to people on the way out of the book shop. Jimbo can cleanse your soul and let you have something to line your hamster cage with all in one fell swoop.

Sometimes Mikey Mikey or China Dave the security men stand near the doors if they think Jimbo is getting too excited but mostly they leave him alone because Jimbo isn’t doing any harm and the customers in the shop like him because he is a character and also because Jimbo likes talking to them and they get made to look silly. Jimbo’s being glared at by The Man he says. Lookie lookie at the agents of oppression out to stifle free speech, fair trade and bad dancing and people usually laugh and Mikey Mikey or China Dave depending on who’s working that day go away and go back into the shop.

Mikey Mikey and China Dave don’t wear policey uniforms like normal security guards. They wear suits and look like business men, except they both have tried to hide going bald by shaving the rest of their hair off and they both have tattoos that sometimes peep out of their necks. And they both have little goatee beards and are massive like six feet four tall and big like boxers or World’s Strongest Man competitors and they like talking about the gym and if Jet Li or Bruce Lee would have won a fight with each other. They both know a lot about kung-fu movies and they do kung-fu and karate and things like that. Mikey Mikey is called that because one day he lost a bit of his radio and his name is Michael so the Saturday girls in the shop were laughing at him saying can’t you find your mikey, Mikey and he got red in the face and they all giggled and that was years ago before I started working at the book shop. China Dave is called that because he is Chinese and his name is Dave except he is the massivest Chinese man I have ever seen.

Oo the way into the bookshop I went over to Jimbo who had just arrived himself. We have a different entrance to the customers. Ours is round the side next to where the deliveries come in and I was going there when I saw Jimbo turn up with his bag full of magazines and I said morning Jimbo and Jimbo says Jimbo says good morning to you too. Can I have a magazine please Jimbo I asked and Jimbo looked at me and smiled and got a magazine out of his bag and started his dancing. Not even nine o-clock and Jimbo’s dancing everyone. Try to keep Jimbo dancing all day, folks and he gave me the magazine and I gave him the money except I gave him two pounds and said keep the change Jimbo and he said Jimbo’s been blessed everybody the sun is shining on righteous Jimbo and Jimbo says you have a good day young gent and don’t let The Man grind you down and I said no Jimbo I won’t and went to work.

My signed book talks about charity. It has a special word for it. Zakat. And even though the word zakat doesn’t mean the same kind of charity like buying Jimbo’s magazine it is the best that I could do this morning.

At least I’ve made a start.


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