His midriff reveals a large, pink belly. What we could term a beer-guzzler. By his side on the dry grass, lies a black and white football shirt with the Northern Rock logo emblazoned across it. Surely a Newcastle fan, I say to myself. My suspicion is confirmed when I spot a tattoo of the two sea-horses and the castle on his leg. Two more ink-works cover his arms and back (although I will only be able to see the latter when he turns around to “roast” himself on the other side); one is a female name (his daughter, perhaps?) and the other is the Magpies’ Latin motto: fortiter defendit triumphans (triumphing by brave defence). His tats differ greatly from other bodyworks I see in the park: Chinese quotes, Zodiac symbols and New Age aphorisms (“Free Yourself”, accompanied by a drawing of a fountain pen).
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Parents hold onto their cygnets and do not let them wander off. Their tall lattes rest on the grass by the side of large summer skirts, children and adults’ bicycles and Birkenstock sandals.
Suddenly a little one breaks from the group. Understand, this is not an organised group, not a group that agreed beforehand to meet in this park. Not, this is an on-the-spot-spur-of-the-moment group, a group whose tattoos do not betray allegiance to a football team but to the world of hipsters, creativity and alternative culture.
The little one (a toddler who can’t be older than two) runs towards him. It takes his mum a few seconds to realise her son has escaped her watch, and a few more to notice that he is approaching the danger zone. Pink-belly, tattooed man is still talking on his phone, however, he turns around and sees the cygnet dashing towards him. I see the toddler's mum and in slow motion I replay the steps scene in Battleship Potemkin. Mum's face might not be displaying the same rictus as the mother in the famous Soviet film but she is not far off. The UULDO scoops up the runner and displaying excellent balance and dexterity hands him over to mum with the words: “Hey li'l rascal, trying to leg it, aincha?” Mum mutters a “thank you”, admonishes her son softly and walks back, turning once to wave and acknowledge the presence of the pink-bellied man who has the can of Red Bull again in his hand and is still talking on his mobile. The mute, observant crowd relaxes a little.
Next Post: “Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music”, to be published on Sunday 14th July at 10am (GMT)