Maria, the Spanish woman, who is usually behind the counter at Sainsbury's, takes much pride in her job. She chats away to every one as she serves them. As for me, she takes endless trouble to slice the Parma or Serrano ham I regularly buy, as delicately as possible, and what is more, to separate the fine slices with sheets of greaseproof paper, so that they don't stick together. "This is very good, " she says, " I only opened it yesterday." As usual she gives me a slice to sample. "You like it?" Of course I like it. She lays the slices one by on the paper spread out to receive them. With the last one, she is not entirely satisfied. "I don't like this, " she says, " it is not as it should be," and transfers it to the tray beneath the slicing machine She cuts another slice. "Enjoy your Parma ham and have a lovely day " she says as she makes a neat parcel to be sealed by the price label.
There is a way of walking, hands behind the back, which used to be considered gentlemanly. The Duke of Edinburgh did and his male offspring were encouraged to follow his example as the required alternative to sticking their hands in their pockets. But manners are changing. Nowadays, even Prince William and Prince Harry are seen with their hands in their pockets. I am not sure that I mind at all. But I can't help noticing a neighbour of more or less my own generation,who invariably walks with his hands clasped behind his back., as though he is inspecting something. This afternoon I spot him from afar a few steps behind his wife. And I think to myself, that is an interesting, if not a beautiful thing for today's Best of Now.
I like these minute by minute observations of how life unfolds - a beautiful thing followed by a beautiful thing - selective though they may be.
There's something quite painterly about the tones of the concrete and its markings. A surprisingly compelling picture, of something one might well overlook.
The hands-behind-the-back/in-the-pockets question. If one ignores the inevitable negative reaction that hands-in-pockets comes across as sloppy and insouciant, the two attitudes convey quite different things. To walk with hands clasped behind the back seems to me to be reflective, perhaps listening, but with a much more self-contained air; hands in pockets is somehow more extrovert, open to things but less considering of them.
That is, if you've got pockets to put your hands in...
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