London tales 1: Signs

(Completely fictitious, honest!)

Out in the Styx of London a stranger stood on the edge of the great road. He followed the local custom of always waiting until the light was red before crossing rapidly in front of the taxis and courier motorcycles. He noticed that sometimes when he did so the drivers of these vehicles would wish him many children by raising various signs of fecundity in his sight. And he was a happy man. All these people wished him well.

Sometimes these people wore stern faces, no doubt due to the pressures of a busy life, yet still they raised before him many signs of fertility, in some cases raising their entire fore-arm, so great was their desire for the well-being of his family. Clearly this was a local custom, even a blessing, and in order to show his respect for these people he began to respond in kind. He did so, a little self-consciously at first, mimicing the smallest gesture by raising his second finger alone toward them. At this some people seemed to respond with sterner looks and with words lost in the roar of their engines or horns and he began to have some doubts. The man shook his head sadly. Evidently the raising of but a single small finger was considered insulting to these people and perhaps they were misinterpreting his attempts to wish them good health and many children. By raising only one small finger, perhaps they thought he was belittling them, daring even to suggest that their member was so small it could be compared with one small finger. When he realised this he was ashamed. But he was determined to be accepted in this culture and to be like them. So he studied their actions carefully, but without further response and then went home to work long and hard (which itself was a metaphor for fecundity) in front of a mirror. At length, he was satisfied with his efforts and decided the very next day to put his new found ability to communicate into action at the earliest opportunity.

As luck would have it he was carried along across three great roads in succession despite the green light being presented to him and it was some time before he could try out his new-found skills. At last his opportunity arrived and he dashed across the road in front of a particularly large motorcycle carrying an even larger courier. Sure enough the rider slowed and raised his closed hand in blessing, uttering words that sounded like "Cupid has you in his Way" through his helmet visor. The man turned quickly and raised his whole arm in salute to this rider's family and loudly wished him and his forebears many sons by many different fathers (for this would provide genetic diversity and mean the continuation of his mothers line). Unfortunately, just as the rider stopped his motorcycle completely and made to dismount so as to thank the man for his generous blessing, the man was borne away with the crowds into a huge department store that, despite its diversity could only display the word "SALE" in, large red letters from many banners. Reluctantly the man submitted to the will of the crowd.

Jerry Everard (c) 1995

© Jerry Everard

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