Saturday, May 23, 2009

Second Person Present

As you approach the picnic table in Paragon Gardens, you see that there is a man sitting there at the picnic table. He is wearing a suit, he has two carrier bags from Lidl, which appear to be full of shopping, and he has a Bible. At least it looks like a Bible: you can see a fairly elaborate leather binding, with a large lighter coloured cross on the front. So you presume that what is contained in this binding is a Bible. You can see that the man has only one shoe on, the other is placed on the ground and he doesn’t appear to be wearing any socks, at least not on the foot that is without the shoe, which of course is therefore naked. A naked foot. You don’t really feel that you want to in any way encourage him to leave, obviously. He has every right to be at that table, it’s a public table in a public place, but at the same time you feel a certain amount of anxiety because you don’t really want to spend too much time here as you have something else to go and do. But you walk away, you keep your distance, you stand some way away where you can see him, to see whether he remains there or whether it’s worth your while really waiting around for him to leave, but at a distance where you think he wouldn’t be able to see you. And then he turns around and looks at you, you are on the other side of the gardens, near the entrance on the road, which in this case is New Kent Road. So, rather self-consciously you decide to just walk away as if you are just pausing on your journey. And then you walk along through the rest of the gardens and then you turn left and you double back along Searles Road to where there is an entrance to the gardens, opposite the Paragon building that exists there now, which has become a development of private flats: I guess what you would call luxury flats, certainly they would be quite expensive.
You see that the man has actually left, so you feel free to approach the table and sit down at it.

The table from a distance could easily be mistaken for a picnic table made of wood, it looks as though it could be wood from a distance, and it’s the style of picnic table that you might often see in a public space, but particularly and more usually in rural places, parks, out in the countryside, woodlands, and so forth. And it’s the only one in Paragon Gardens, in both parts of Paragon Gardens this is the only picnic table.

On close inspection it’s quite clear that the picnic table isn’t made of wood, but I suppose it’s some kind of plastic polymer, which has been made in such a way as to almost resemble wood. It has its own plastic grain, which could be mistaken, at a cursory glance, for wood.