Waterloo Millennium Green

It’s ten past four. I’m lying on my back on a bench in one of the many shit parks in London. People are walking past in all directions without really paying attention. Lots of them are plugged in to music. A man with a trolley is repeatedly shouting “Rasta Dog!” at a poodle while the owners politely giggle in the hopes he’ll go away. Another man lies on the floor, holding his hand out to indifferent pigeons. There is nothing in his hand. He seems sad. Earlier he was banging an empty beer can against the wall. Occasionally he sneezes, and all the pigeons startle for a moment, take flight, and settle again. He’s only about 15 foot away from me but we are in completely different worlds.


The sun is shining, and in my patch of light I feel warm. I’m willing to believe that the worst of the season is past now. I have the warmth on my face, and occasionally I stare at the sun with eyes closed and feel the light come into my breath.

Soon we we’ll be able to leave the house without coats. The heads of the daffodils are poking up, hesitant lest it snows again, but wanting their time in the light. The pigeons are gearing up for that month where the men all get drunk-bus-stop-weirdo and follow the women around for hours without understanding they aren’t welcome.

Today is my weekend. I’ve cemented a new skill in seven days. Basically I’ve been on a Tarot bootcamp. I didn’t cross out my availability in tagmin – my agent’s software – so I was just relying on providence not to provide auditions at inconvenient times. There were no auditions, but now the engine of Macbeth is stoking hard at The Factory and I have a strong sense we will suddenly do a show very soon.

Right now I don’t have to think about that. I can soak up the last rays of the sun. Maybe I’ll get a can of beer as well, like my sad neighbour.

These shit parks get a lot of use. A guy in a Prius just pulled up on the kerb with his hazards on, emptied a bag of rice into the flock of pigeons, and got straight back into the Prius and drove away. Almost immediately a small boy in red went running at the knot of feeding birds, laughing with wonder at his ability to directly affect the world as they leapt out of his flailing path. The mother held a pushchair on the path and laughed as well. She dropped a wrapper as she laughed, unthinking.

Come to think of it, the whole park is strewn with wrappers, labels, bottle tops, fag butts, plastic forks, stirrers, food containers, bottles. This will be our archaeological legacy. “Come on,” the mother shouts. “Do you want to go get a Macdonald’s?”

This park is no bigger than a football pitch, and at this time on a weekday there are 22 people I can see, with no group larger than 2. How many people there must be in this city, all with their own stories, all with their own needs, all wanting a slice of the pie, all thoughtlessly discarding tiny bits of crap that will lie here long after they are dust…

The breeze is picking up now, and the sun is falling behind Cubana bar. I’m going to the theatre tonight. I think I’ll get a coffee before it starts. Or a beer. Or both. But not a Macdonald’s.


Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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