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The Smiling Observer.


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"Which came first, the garden gnome or the old man who looks just like a garden gnome?"

I don’t know why but that thought kept intruding into my mind very early this crisp Autumn morning as I sat inside the car observing the hustle and bustle of market stall holders loading their wares onto trolleys and steadily piling boxes onto the footpath in preparation for the Ivy market.

Was it coincidence that the gnomey old man with his delightfully bulbous red nose was unloading pot plants?

For some reason today, instead of being focused on selling candles, my mind kept wandering to people’s faces and seeing characters, or just seeing parts OF characters, accompanied by a stream of words that flooded my brain to describe them.

It was even worse when I felt compelled to leave my husband to man the stall while I took a break and went for a stroll through the main part of town.

“Busking blues man with the crazy hair and cyanotic lips!â€

I walked past HIM several times and that sentence screamed so loud in my mind that I was almost afraid my lips would inadvertently spit it out!

"Yeah! That's who you are, and don't you forget it!"

“Pinnochio!†(a fleeting glance) actually made me smile.

“Wheelchair woman with resting breasts on kneesâ€

“Slim Jim cowboy man with emphysema’d lungs - strutting his stuff.â€

“Independent white caned blind lady with the elephant charm pendant†(A familiar character I “knowâ€)

It struck me that so many of these characters I am beginning to recognize.

Of course they don’t know me from a bar of soap but I’ve seen them around and obviously made a mental note of them.

It’s been two years of feeling like a visitor to this place – my parents “placeâ€. Somewhere we always used to come to visit, but now this realization that I am recognizing so many faces makes it feel a little more like home.

Kind of.

I noticed that “busker teenager sitting cross-legged playing the Casio keyboard badly.†was not around.

Instead there was “Budding busking Asian cellist girl†suitably set up in the shade in front of the church, but I worried a little about her. She seems too young to be left out in the streets alone.

A new one – “busking teenager in too short shorts stupidly standing in the sun belting out tired old pop tunes.†was there today.

Saturday mornings sure are a buskers paradise in these streets.

I felt myself unable to stop smiling as I walked and observed this crazy spectacle before me.

So many colourful, charming, unusual and delightful people.

You have to understand that it is not that I am amused in an unkind way at them. I am smiling WITH them.

Smiling because they simply exist, in all their beautiful, individual, ways, shapes and sizes.

It gave me pause to think for a moment.

I wonder if other people are making mental notes too and perhaps have coined ME with a phrase, in their heads.

I wonder who *I* am.

If I were to take a guess I would be…..

“Slightly crazy looking smiling woman staring too long at me - smoking the funny cigarette.â€

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