1. June
(Vicarage Road 2020, Stewart, 2007; Gov.uk; Inscription in a Lorrie Moore book)
2. August
(Bourdieu in Gunaratnam, 2012; Stewart and Berlant, 2019)
3. September
(Lyon, 2019; Lefebvre; Insane Car Driver/Small Business Twitter)

(7)
~ “the tops”


1. June

Contorted with stress, with needs, oven gloves hanging off her arm, childlike and middle aged, she answers with the question: could they call her mum? Come in, wait here. Glances shared in the Co-Op forecourt where we stand in two metred constellation, waiting to be beckoned in, one way. She is sheltered in housing, sheltered by security guards with compassionate intrigue.

Daily softly chaos of The Tops. The Fire Alarm episode’s quiet, nark-free passage is not– yet? - a sigh of relief that says a “we” endeavours – just about- to battle. It’s more a micro exhale.

Still, one worth our puff.

2. August

August and norms remains surprising. I grin to catch sight of “Tom” – socked, sandelled, and clutching chin in comical thoughtfulness– shuffling from shop to shop, a magpie for mini Tops drama. The Co-op scenes that made my throat tight with [wistful, interpolating, patronising?] emotion are fewer and further between, though; the saintly security guide is there, waving, only every third visit. Two talismen. Now it’s all “I knew where I stood in the lockdown!” “it’s the uncertainty!” Sixes, bubbles, and broken records. Comforting curmudgeon, sure, but tedious. I walk home, wondering about Tom’s bubbles and if they exist.
 
3. September

20’s apparently not plenty. I trip over the junction on foot at a skip, neck cricked round to a corner I’ve conditioned to label blind, but is just reckless. Pause, step, dash, slow. Rev. Feelings quicken, then dump. Tom, old man sat outside the Onestop, legs crossed, arms folded. 8.30 am or pm. As things belch back to uneven life these corona characters show themselves to be corona constancies. Couple sit for the 11 – the circular - to take them anti-clockwise. Counter rhythms. Zuped up skoda drivers swing in and jut out, into the pavement, my path, around the anxious, urgent queue (“let’s co-operate!).

On the day Johnson calls all who consider colonialism - “wet”, they pull up the bollards. These pedestrian spaces which reclaimed – slightly! Apologetically! – parking spaces have lasted just three days. “Main roads are communities too” is a twitter handle. Collection of local slum landlords say “it’s economic state terrorism” for council to approve measures. I guess like Johnson, their father maverick, they just “had to get that off their chest”. “Rhythm” almost seems too soft, kind, naturally pacing a term for what reigns here. It seeps into my own mobility; jutting, irritated, accusatory.