Sometimes you catch sight of something,and you just know that at some point, maybe weeks, months or even years down the line you are going to write about it. I don’t know how many years ago… maybe fourteen or fifteen, we had taken the children to one of those play areas which is like a big, huge cage with different levels and lots of soft things to climb over, walkways to climb through, slides, ropes, foam balls to fall into, things to squeeze between… it was great. You paid a certain price for the kids to go in and then you went upstairs where there was a café with a huge window so you could see the kids safely whizzing around having a great time and using lots of energy. They were quite safe and there were attendants, young people who were there to make sure no-one got stuck/lost/frightened.
We were on holiday and the weather wasn’t that nice so we took the kids to this soft play adventure place, which may have been called Paradise island. We were sitting with coffee, reading the papers and waving at the children as they raced past, and I noticed among all the other parents who doing as we were a man sitting on his own. He looked to be in his fifties or maybe even sixties, a granddad that was certain. He had his coffee, and he had his newspaper, which he was reading with that patient look people have when waiting for their children or grandchildren.
He attracted my attention for some reason, and even though it is so many years ago I can still remember him vividly. He was wearing a black leather jacket, quite worn, but obviously good quality and it must have been expensive when he bought it new. He was wearing dark trousers and black, very polished shoes. To complete his outfit he was wearing a brilliant white t-shirt. He hd grey curly hair brushed back, with some sort of product on it so it was neat and kempt, the curls subdued to waves. He had a square, rather battered face, quite red as if maybe he was hard living man, and his nose had obviously been damaged at some point, maybe broken. He had a firm, unsmiling mouth, and when he occasionally looked up from his paper, he scanned the café as if checking everyone there. He looked a hard man, a tough man, and strong even though he was getting on in years. He was reading The Times with concentration, and when he did glance around, his eyes were cold, and seemed to miss nothing.
One day, he will crop up in one of my books… one day!