Tuesday Morning 11:50am – I am walking to the bank. There is a newspaper discarded on a bench at the bus stop. I pick it up. The queue at the bank stretches nearly to the door. I take the opportunity to peruse the paper. It appears that half of Europe is in the midst of political change. The Greeks are refusing to accept austerity measures. Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front scored its first victory in European Parliament elections in France. And over here the rise of UKIP, could be the final nail in the coffin for the Liberal Democrats, if this paper is to be believed. A scruffily dressed woman with a wheel trolley standing behind me, points at the article I am reading and says, ‘Innit it sad so many idiots voting for that UKIP.’
‘Quite,’ reply I.
‘Is that all you got to say, you can do better than that.’
Looking up at her I remark, ‘Are you aware that you are wearing a beige jumper with floral motif tracksuit bottoms?’
She looks down at her ensemble and then up at me. She says, ‘Err yes, I put them on didn’t I.’
‘Oh, you do know, okay.’
After leaving the bank I stop off at a pub, where I continue reading the newspaper whilst sipping on a pint of Fosters. At the other end of my table two men are partaking in a jovial conversation. A man with a Scottish accent, who from the look of his bulbous nose and thread veined cheeks, drinks full time. The other, a gentleman in an expensive looking linen summer suit, who sounds like he is from West Africa.
Soon after they engage me in conversation. The newspaper is laid out on the table in front of me, and the Scottish man and the other, who transpires to be a Nigerian, make comments about its various articles. It is a sort of impromptu ‘Question Time’ (broadcast on the BBC). The Nigerian, name unknown, has a quick wit, which I appreciate. On turning to the political article from earlier, he complains about the ‘ineptitude’ of British politicians compared to his home country of Nigeria. I tell him, ‘I’ve got two words for you, Boko – Haram’.
On turning to the finance pages it becomes apparent that he is something of a minerals expert, as he offers some fairly detailed analysis about the state of the Australian bauxite industry and Congolese coltan mines. The Scottish man finishes his drink and bids us farewell.
Next up is the sports section. Inevitably the conversation turns to the forthcoming World Cup. In a very sincere voice he tells me that he believes that the Super Eagles (Nigeria) will win the tournament. I laugh out loud and then exclaim, ‘Absolute nonsense, Nigeria won’t even get out of their group. Bosnia and Herzegovina will go through in second place behind Argentina.’
‘How can you know these things,’ responds the man in a menacing tone, encroaching into my personal space as he does so.
I reply, ‘I just do.’
He proceeds to preach to me about the qualities of the Super Eagles, in a very loud and aggressive manner, using hand gestures liberally, pacing up and down as he does so. His comments include, ‘You cannot understand these things.’ And ‘We have Mikel, Moses and Emenike.’ And ‘God is with the Super Eagles.’
Then, quite unexpectedly, he pulls up the trouser legs of his white suit to reveal green Super Eagle socks. This is concerning.
A barman walks over. He tells us a customer has complained, and we have to leave, which seems unreasonable, as I haven’t uttered so much as a word in quite sometime. I down my pint. Outside in the fresh air the man is instantly calm again. We go our separate ways.