En famille

Today was another run-of-the-mill day in the local borough; viz., morning ablutions, breakfast, poring over the overnight email, grocery shopping, cycling, sunbathing and swimming. When one such as I has a finite daily syllabus it is at times discomfiting to have nothing remarkable to report. It was however notable today that my tricycle added a moment of rarity to an otherwise mundane curriculum. By way of introduction to this novel circumstance, thanks to my brother-in-law Edward Marion Hladkowicz – aka, Keeper of the Family Antiquities – I coincidentally received from him the attached faded photograph of my late father C. G. William Chapman DSO giving his best shot at the propulsion of an equally dim tricycle. Then by happenstance this afternoon when I was fulfilling my statutory 5.13 Kms about the parish, I was approached by a woman of an age who said, pointing to my tricycle, “Do you mind if I ask where you got that?”

I would have thought that today, being as it is part of the American Thanksgiving holiday, would have been more sparky. By contrast there was a pervasive stillness. Perhaps the flurry if any was confined to the retail outlets as this is Black Friday.

Black Friday the day after Thanksgiving, regarded as the first day of the traditional Christmas shopping season, on which retailers offer special reduced prices

ORIGIN early 17th century (as school slang, in the sense Friday on which an examination is held). The shopping sense dates from the 1960s and was originally used with reference to congestion created by shoppers; it was later explained as a day when retailers’ accounts went from being “in the red” to “in the black”.

My day of retail acquisitions has long ago expired. It quite amuses me to recognize my entire disinterest in anything new given my historic absorption in the fodder. A summary of requisite new things might now strategically embrace no more than socks, smalls, shorts and short-sleeve shirts. Beyond that I want for nothing. My latest acquisition of any prominence was the tricycle. I bought it for the same reason hypothesized today by the woman who enquired about mine; namely, a growing fear of instability on a bicycle and the possibility of having to endure routine and largely embarrassing collapses from a stationary position (as indeed I have already done). Fortuitously in the past several days I have seen others upon tricycles. It denotes a new and accelerating retail rage. When I displayed to the woman today the dexterity with which I could arrest the tricycle and sit upright upon it in a static position she was visibly overwhelmed.

The unfolding of events this afternoon was otherwise consistent with my predominantly flavourless morning. At the pool there were only I and a woman who positioned herself unobtrusively beneath the pergola, reading. She restrained her swim in the pool until after I had noticeably completed my own aquatic diversion and had retired with my stick to the shade to muse upon whatever trifling matters preoccupy one when withdrawing from the sun and the water. I subsequently learned from His Lordship, when we later shared our afternoon enterprises, that the woman was perhaps an occupant of the townhouse next door our own. I indicated that in keeping with her overall reserve she maintained a distance which paradoxically bespoke a restrained curiosity.