In the café a very charming and effusive old man in a lopsided suit with a mop of wiry salt & pepper hair and a beard like a tatty broom asks if he can sit next to a quiet-and-not-unwelcoming-but-not-very-chatty-either older woman. I think he is a musician who plays staccato notes on the saxophone, interrupted by passages of mournful eloquence. I think she is someone who runs a centre for alternative therapies. He is always having to break down walls and she is always building them up again. She will repel the musician in the same way rubber repels rainwater. He will slide off her, a quivering droplet running down the side of her coat, and splash on the floor of the café.
Ahhhhhh: he’s closing his eyes and feeling the smooth, cool floor beneath his back, inhaling deeply while she reads her paper, drinks her coffee and forgets that she even ordered a falafel panini.
Oh wait, no, she has remembered the panini; she’s taking a bite out of it. The crispy dough makes a loud noise while the un-constituted musician mouths the words to Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty. Alternative-therapy-woman reconsiders the puddle man as she readjusts her snowflake cardigan. She thinks he used to look a little bit like the Green Man, if the Green Man were an urbane hipster senior professor-type with a laptop. That was before he splashed against her silence. The warmth in her eyes doesn’t produce any miracles. He is still a puddle of water on the floor – but the sun is now shining through the window, and pretty soon both of them will have gone.