Our journey to school is the same every day. Behind the wheel, I drive us, the wheels of the car following the same path smoothly without question…down the hill, up the hill, over the bridge, stop at the lights, over the roundabout, and then the next roundabout, follow the road, see the people, bumper to bumper, yawning, past the garage, over the train tracks, turn right, down to the next lights… I could do it blindfolded. I could do it in my sleep. And we see the same things out of the windows, and we pass the same people, like Richard.
Who is Richard? We don’t know, but we can guess. We make it up to suit ourselves. We see him every day. We think he is called Richard, because apparently he used to come in the off licence for his Stellas. He wears a dark green parka, he walks like Liam Gallagher, he has the hair cut too. Ian Brown. Sometimes with dark glasses on, sometimes without. Always with his headphones on. What is he listening to? We can guess…
So now it gets embarrassing. Because I’m sure he knows that we talk about him. Maybe he sees us too. The same silver car passing him every day, sometimes as he walks over the bridge, over the tracks, sometimes as he passes the traffic lights further down… Maybe he sees the kids pointing, sees their mouths shouting, it’s Richard! Maybe he sees me, this mad woman behind the wheel, grinning at him like a lunatic.
I have to look away now. It’s Richard, yeah Richard! Then look away and pretend to drive. Oh my god if we ever bumped into him in a shop! I just know the kids would let me down. Mum? It’s Richard. How the fuck do you know my name?
But Richard we know you! We see you! Every day, with your hands in your pockets, you swagger down the pavement like you just walked out of the 90’s, and I just know what you’ve got in your ears, The Stone Roses or Oasis? Us too! I get so excited sometimes. We’re rolling past him and I want to roll the window down so he can hear it; Richard! Listen! Charlatans! Whoo hoo!
But he wouldn’t be able to hear because he is always plugged into his..
Richard…I’d say you are a bit over forty. I’d say you were mad fer it. I’d say you know your music and you know that everything since then has been shite. I’d say you probably have kids…Where are you going every day? Off to work? With your bag on your back. You must walk there, you must walk quite far..Wonder where you start? Wonder where you come from.
Sorry Richard. Poor Richard, who might not even be called Richard. But it’s not my fault you caught my eye! In your parka, with your haircut, like a relic from Britpop, you were always going to make me smile! Look at him, I said to the kids, I can tell you right now what music he likes! Not like today. You can’t tell anymore what music someone is in to by the way they dress, because they all seem to dress the same. But you’ve got it written all over you! It’s a joy to behold.
There goes Richard. Every morning we see Richard. It would be a sad day if we didn’t. And I don’t know why, but for some reason, I want to drive past and wave to him, I want to be playing Slide Away or She Bangs The Drums or North Country Boy at high, high volume, and he’ll hear it over his own tunes, and he’ll turn and see us all smiling and waving and he’ll know that Richard, WE SALUTE YOU!!