[I had a rather strange conversation in the village the other day. I wondered if could be any stranger]


I wondered why the guy in the trench coat was hovering. It wasn’t as if there was a lot to hover for in this street. Sure there were still some shops open, but a butchers, two bookmakers and an off licence with whitewashed windows didn’t make for much of a window shopping experience. The bank I was queuing outside had a hole in the wall cash machine and a plastic logo to look at. I wondered about the cash machine. Was that his interest?

The woman in front of me finished her transaction and waited a second for her notification slip to be produced. It appeared and she took a step away from the wall, putting the paper in her purse. I took a step forward and so did the old gentleman in the trench coat. I now saw that he was wearing a hat as well, a strange cross between a flat cap and one of those Breton caps made fashionable in the 1960s by the Beatles, Bob Dylan and other ‘hipster; types. Maybe this was an original. He looked old enough to remember the 60s.

The woman in front of me took another step and so did I. So did the third point in our variable scalene triangle. I was about to put my card in the machine when his presence in my peripheral vision broke that plane of acceptable proximity. I held the card in front of the machine and turned as he spoke.

‘Excuse me do you know if this bank is any good?’

I confess to being a bit surprised. It didn’t seem like the traditional approach of a mugger. Besides he was too old. I did a swift three sixty sweep for accomplices but came up cold. I smiled.

‘Sorry, I’m just using the machine.’ I said

He looked rather crestfallen. I checked again. Just a woman behind me getting a bit agitated at the delay. I decided to offer him a little more. He seemed safe enough.

‘My daughter has an account here though. She doesn’t use a full range of services but it seems okay. They’ve always been very helpful.’

His face lit up. The glasses perched on his bob of a nose were like marbles, seeming as thick as they were round.
‘Oh good. I’m looking to move from Barclays.’

‘Not working for you?’ I asked placing my card on the lip of the machine’s slot.

‘Oh no! They’ve been terrible. I don’t keep all my money here you know, just the stuff for day to day use.’
I paused, he had approached beyond my comfort zone again. I wasn’t going to be putting any pin numbers into a machine with him this close. I had no idea what his vision was like with those lenses.

‘Excuse me, are you using the machine?’ Ten seconds was obviously outside the parameters of the agitated beady little woman’s patience. I turned and smiled as insincerely as I could.

‘Yes. But you go ahead.’

Meanwhile my new associate was joining in the conversation, apologising to the queue jumper and me. I took a couple of steps away and let her get on with it while my pebbly eyed friend followed. Clearly he had more to say.



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