It was the first time, and it wouldn’t be the last.
He’d walked past the place so many times in his old life, heard the raised voices, seen the huddled tourists clicking their camera phones. Sometimes there’d be applause, sometimes giggles, a smirk behind a palm. He was always too busy to stop.
That was before.
Now he has as much time as he likes to listen and watch. ‘Time rich, cash poor,’ his Mum said when he told her about losing his job.
He can’t afford to go to pubs or restaurants anymore – contact with friends has dropped off anyway. Just so busy with work, mate.
Now he spends his time in the capital’s parks. He likes watching the loose necked pelicans in St James’s, the deer in Richmond. But it’s the people he finds most fascinating and most hideous. The foreigners with their bum bags slung under overfed guts, office workers on their lunch breaks, stuffing meatball subs into their mouths, leaving the wrappers behind to flap in the wind like injured gulls. He sees it everywhere – humanity is a gaping mouth never full.
One Saturday he was sitting on a bench in Hyde Park. It was hot, a lot of scorched flesh on show. The litter bin next to him was full, at its base a moat of spilled vanilla ice cream black with ants. There’s the world, he thought, infested with people. And they won’t stop until it’s all gone.
That was the moment.
A wooden crate was difficult to come by. Scarce, apparently. Twenty quid on ebay. Eventually, he spotted one in a skip, just lying there, half covered by a length of stained stair carpet. Fate, he thought, as he carried it home.
Now he’s here at Speaker’s Corner and even though he hasn’t said a word, tourists are gathering, curious podgy faces upturned, cameras raised, ready to record.
And he knows.
These will be the best words. They will burn into every heart, shame the devourers.
These words will shape the world.
Written for The Daily Post’s Opening Line prompt.
For those of you who are unaware of Regent’s Park’s astonishing Speakers’ Corner, do pop along here to find out more.