Visual Congruence

There are some occasions people watching when I can become fascinated by a stranger through the gradual unfolding of clues about them, as time elapses; the more I notice, the more they appear to be the thing I imagine them to be.

Last week, I took a bus from St Paul’s to Piccadilly Circus; it’s not one of my regular routes and therefore I would usually spend most of my time looking out of the window, seeing familiar bits of London from an unusual perspective.

On this occasion however my attention was captured by a woman sitting on the small seat tucked in a tiny gap behind the driver and underneath the curve of the stairs.  In the cramped space she was hunched over a book, a number of over full carrier bags around her feet.  It was a warm day, but she was wearing several layers of clothing, many visible from the various edges around her knees and wrists, a sort of multi dimensional boho style.

When her stop was approaching and she unwound herself from her seat it became clear that the pile of carrier bags and wheeled trolley, which were overspilling the luggage area, were also hers.  I watched her load herself up, organising one large Sainsbury’s bag on to op the wheelie, a Morrison’s bag in each hand, an Emma Bridgewater bag stuffed into her oversize backpack.  No matter how much staring I did, I could only see the contents of one of the bags: several newspapers, not neatly folded.

Her last manoeuvre before alightng from the bus was to slide the book she’d been reading into the side pocket of one of the bags:  ‘Overcoming Compulsive Hoarding’.

Just to check the accuracy of my memory of the title I found it on amazon, where I was delighted to see that I could buy it, should I so wish, as part of a trio of books on the same subject for a modest discount.  Surely a sore temptation to a person suffering from this disorder.

I know the digital system of book sorting and recommendation used by amazon has no sense of irony, but it is there none the less in the fact that there are a further dozen or so books also suggested in the ‘if you like that, you’ll love these’ box at the bottom of the page.  And then once I noticed that, there was no avoiding seeing that while it would cost a minimum of £8.80 to buy the book, it would yield only 85p on trade in.  There’s clearly not much of a second hand market for it.  Who of the target audience would be prepared to part from it anyway?

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  1. margaret

     /  April 3, 2012

    Almost too extraordinary ! That situation begs so many questions .


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