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Sunday, July 20, 2008

heads bodies legs

So there is Granny, sloping round London - sometimes rained on - sometimes not - looking at people's FEET for some reason. So many of them - and of so many different ethnicities - ethnicity only revealed knees downward where the wearer is dressed in long robes and even then you need to look upwards to ascertain more. She started her foot fetish - whatever it is - while in the tube, one day, jammed against someone's back. Looking upwards meant gazing straight into faces at too close quarters; feet/legs altogether less embarrassing, that's where she directed her gaze; bare legs, jeaned legs, skirted ones, fat ones, thin ones, long ones, short ones, brown ones, white ones; trainered feet, sandalled feet, ballerina-ed feet, booted feet; new shoes, old shoes, smart ones, shabby ones, buckled, laced, high-heeled, low-heeled. On the tube, though, you don't tend to see the expensive kind of footwear - the Jimmy Choos, the LK Bennetts. Their wearers presumably go by taxi. Nor do you often see ethnically/religiously revealing ones; the enveloping robe wearers, much more local, seemingly, in Granny's part of London, go by bus. As Granny does now it is all free thanks to her advanced age, and - thanks to dear departed Ken - efficient too, as well as more friendly. People talk to each other on buses - when they are not talking into their mobile phones that is.

One day, on a bus, she sat next to a robe with wholly-covered face - eyes only on view. She had to talk to the eyes - 'I'm getting out next stop - shall we change seats?' The eyes blinked, the head nodded, there was maybe a smile under the cloth: but hard to tell. Very disconcerting really - how does one pick up signals without facial movements? Granny's psychiatric friend says she finds most evidence in the eyes - but maybe you need to be a psychiatrist to read those as well as she evidently does: Granny got off the bus realising she needed much more practice. Communication had been achieved to the extent of she and her neighbour changing seats; but more? How could she tell.

Faces. If it's feet on the tube, it's faces on the bus. Older faces - and younger ones. Many more children and old people travel by bus than by tube. And such faces. Years ago, in Jerusalem, a friend told her to look out for faces on buses there; the wondrously carved faces, strong cheek bones of men and women from east of Poland, north and east of Turkey. Now London is like that; full of faces you'd expect to see sitting outside coffee shops, in the Middle East or Kurdistan, or Bulgaria. By comparison the few British faces on view appear oddly edgeless, undefined; Granny's too, most likely.

London landscape is heads, bodies, legs; so many they can drive you mad, threading your way along any pavement, particularly wet ones, particularly when dodging umbrellas. But given that in Lanzarote the range is so much more limited, Granny enjoys the crowded hodge-podge while she can. Waiting for a baby which does not come yet. Limbo time.

Oh and this. Mamma Mia - the film - is just as cheesy as the critics sniffily say. And didn't culturally superior Granny despise Abba in their glory days. But now....in a gloomy moment - it was raining hard, for one thing - she trotted off to her local cinema. She enjoyed every single minute of it and came out singing. So THERE.

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