I made myself go up town today and the sun came out. I’ve been crocheting blankets again; started at work the other night, in between calls. It’s time to build up a stock of stuff to sell, I mean I’m supposed to be finishing my website and that’s what’s holding me back, because I haven’t got anything, right here and now, to put up for sale. I’ve got all sorts lying God knows where but can’t get to it at the moment; some is in Spain and some, hopefully, wrapped up tight in the old flat. I saw wool at great prices in a big old department store last week so that was the first stop. Think I’ll get three blankets out of this, and the colours are stunning…have started already and am one ball down – 100gms in a couple of hours.
I’m not a window shopper; I tend to get what I want and scoot off, but I’d brought my notebook and the camera, to people-watch so…I sauntered into the Buchanan Galleries and had a lovely latte in Ben&Jerry’s. There was a group of guys break-dancing for the crowd; nothing spectacular but I had fun. I think it would’ve been more exciting if the music was louder; there was no atmosphere; I suppose the shops might have complained.
I was only out about two hours; that feels like a whole day to me, but it means that I get to do lots of different things. Years ago I might’ve spent it all in one go, my time. I met an old friend in town a few years ago and we spent the whole day in Waterstones on Sauchiehall St, right on to a poetry reading in the evening and were practically shoved out of the shop at closing time, high as kites on caffeine!
When I arrived at the flat there was a handful of people standing outside the building beside an array of bouquets on the ground. I stopped and asked what was happening and they told me that the woman in the fire had just died; one of them was her daughter, she said that they’d switched off the machines this morning. Her mother had never regained consciousness; the smoke had caused too much damage to her brain. I could feel myself tearing up; I’d never met her but I was upset that this woman had died. She was only fifty-five. I was stunned that so much damage could have been done and we had not suffered at all. The people above and below had, to some extent, but the only thing that touched us was/is the smell.
In the ten weeks that I’ve been here I’ve only met people in the lift about four times. I met the neighbour next door yesterday for the first time. I don’t know the name of the woman who died but she has touched me. When I was a child I remember women from the area coming round now and again collecting for the family when someone had died. I said to Musician, ‘I wonder if there’s anyone getting up a collection for her daughter,’ and he looked at me as if I was mad. ‘Don’t get involved,’ he said. And when I thought about it, who would open their doors these days, to strangers asking for money, in an area like this?
As I began my new crochet I listened to the kids in the street, running around, playing some ball game, life going on as normal while the bunches of flowers sit beside the door, and above them the black gaping holes of the windows in the burnt-out flat.