This post is different from my usual type of post. I am currently working through the book “On Being a Writer” by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig and taking part in an online discussion on chapters from the book. This week we have been focussing on taking the time to stop and notice what is around us- to carry a notebook to jot down things we notice and to use them in our writing. I tried to put this into practice earlier this week by deliberately making time to sit down, take in the scene around me and make some notes, and then to write this description in an attempt to develop these skills.
It is early evening as I walk along the busy street among hurried commuters heading home from work and strolling tourists, taking in the sights around them.
As I pass the bookshop, I see a young man anxiously looking around him in anticipation as he paces back and forth. In his hand is a beautiful bouquet of sunflowers. I offer up a quick prayer for him and the lady he is waiting to meet.
I find an empty bench in the middle of the pedestrian precinct- a good place to sit and observe the scene, to pause and people-watch. As I sit down, a gentle breeze is blowing, but I can still feel the warmth from the rays of sun that are breaking timidly through from behind the clouds and lighting up the buildings around me.
I close my eyes and listen- so many different sounds: dogs barking, birds squawking, the rustle of food wrappers, the buzz of different accents and languages, the roar of the traffic in the next street punctuated by the occasional beeping of a horn.
As I open my eyes, I see pigeons pecking all around me. One approaches as if to say hello, but is distracted by some food and wanders away again, head bobbing as he goes.
Suddenly I hear a roar, and I look round to see a middle-aged lady running along, pushing a toddler in a pushchair. The toddler yells like a conquering hero as they roll right through the group of pigeons, causing them to scatter in a flurry.
Once the threat of the toddler has passed, the pigeons settle down once more and the scene becomes calm again. I look up and notice the young man from the bookshop walking past. I smile to see that he is hand in hand with a blonde haired girl who holds the sunflowers. They laugh and joke with one another as they move up the street.
From further along I hear the twang of an electric guitar as a busker begins to tune up, ready to play.
Amidst the gentle rumble of tourists’ suitcases trundling over the cobbles and the squeak of bicycle wheels, the calm is interrupted once more. A lady in a business suit pours out a bag of breadcrumbs on the ground and is almost knocked over in the rush as the pigeons scramble for food.
The guitarist begins to play, but before I can focus on the music, I hear a piercing whistle and look up to see a man in a green T-shirt approaching, obviously hoping to attract someone’s attention. At first I think he is heading for me, but then his friends see him and they greet one another in a bustle of handshakes and hugs, and head off talking excitedly.
I notice I am beginning to feel cold. The clouds have hidden the sun once more and the wind is getting stronger. The scene around me quietens down as people make their way home. Even the pigeons have gone, no doubt searching for food elsewhere.
The guitar playing gets louder. It is out of tune and the repetitive rhythm is beginning to annoy me.
Anyway, I have people to meet, so it is time for me to go too.