The sun has not yet risen as I wander the convoluted streets of a city I am
sure I have visited before, perhaps when I was very young. Everything is
dusty, as if dew never falls here.
The fact that not a soul is about
adds to the unreality of the place, along with my faltering observation that
there is no architecture here that dates from after about 1600. The overhanging gables
hide the bleached sky, and my hunger drives me on. I am seeking a newsagent,
as for some time my erratic sleeping habits have made me reliant on these
early-opening meccas of providence. There is something definitely unwholesome
about the ranges of snacks, the serried chocolate bars, the newspapers and the
minority-interest pornographic magazines, but the newsagent has always seems to
me a haven from the cold, empty-stomached early hours.
The city slumbers on,
and my feet cross cobbled squares, take me along twisting alleys, and into the
quiet lung of the urb. There is no sign of any kind of shop at all, let alone
the reassuring florescent experience of an Eight-Till-Late or the like. The
only commercial enterprise I pass is a shoemaker's shop, festooned with dusty
boots and leather offcuts. Occasionally I glimpse the countryside, trapped
between two desperately overleaning Tudor eaves.
Eventually I find what I am
looking for - but, disappointingly, the stock consists of a range of Cook-In
Sauces and three cans of sardines. I leave the shop with a can of sardines and
return to the maze of streets, now almost certain that something is amiss.