The gulls were all whirling and fairly screaming as I turned the corner onto Princess Street on Sunday morning. Crashed packets of garbage, then a million broken bits rolling around. It was a gull party. At least the wind was warm. I don’t know why I walked up Division, which I usually avoid, because the effect is certainly disaffecting … I understand why you might mindlessly pile up beer bottles on your front step, but why go to the effort of smashing them? Division Street’s ugliness is unrelenting enough to dismiss until you think just for a few seconds about the kind of people who do walk it: the unemployed (or unemployable) and upper middle-class Queen’s students. Guess who leaves more of a mess? Of course the Money Mart is a classic touch, kind of a flagship for the suffering. I did find a dime on the sidewalk, about a block from my studio, but I declined to pick it up because it was floating in piss. This might turn out to be bad luck later.
At the No Frills on Saturday night; everyone seemed in a hurry; yet these were not the kind of people who seemed to hurry for anything; I soon found out why; the store was closing in five minutes; people rushed around; looking like leaky balloons; people yelled at each other; a very old man in a tattered suit raised his voice to the cashier; he’d already given a charitable donation two times this week; and asked two more times on top of that; and why did everyone think he was a millionaire; when I got up to the checkout, the cashier was relieved when I nodded ‘fine’ to the same request; it’s awkward for everyone, I said; as I packed my groceries, a soft-spoken wide-eyed woman told me that she had forgotten potatoes, and now she couldn’t make Shepherd’s Pie; why do people talk to me?; I certainly wouldn’t talk to me; in the nearly empty parking lot, some guy in a truck was playing the Eagles really, really loud.