by N.D. Gomes
Magpie Jones flittered as he walked, all at once, brushing past you in the crowd, up far ahead, and lagging behind. You could see that there was only one man dressed in faux leather jacket, black shirt, black jeans, Docs and white trilby, but nonetheless he was everywhere, rushing forward, only to get caught behind the teenage mother and her squealing buggy, dropping behind you only to reappear, taking another track on the far side of Market Street, surfing the wake of the fast walking want-to-be-yuppie. You might notice him, or rather his hat, smile and then forget him as soon as you were bustled in the crowd or he slipped out of sight, but more often you'd not notice him at all. And later, in Clarks, or HMV or wherever you finally decided to make a purchase, when reaching into your pocket and pulling out only air where your wallet should have been, you'd remember the gang of school boys quick and scally, loud and leering, who bundled round you, broke over you, and when you reported it to the police you'd blame them. You'd not even think of Magpie Jones, lifter, pick pocket, petty thief, wallet snatcher. But he'd be thinking of you, guessing your thoughts and he'd be toasting the name on your card, after all, it was so nice of you to offer to pay for his round.
N.D. Gomes supports Manchester City. His online home is here.