Leather strap

Fast walk downtown around lunchtime to sort out a vexing would-be online “top-up” purchase at Vodafone, to see a Relationship Manager at HSBC, to buy shoe polish in preparation for the big day tomorrow, and to track down a watch strap for the same purpose.

On the way, the main drag through Canton abuzz with shoppers, loafers, bus-queues. Traffic groaning through the obstacle course of roadworks, stoplights and stray pedestrians. Little local shops selling provisions, magazines, hardware, cheap clothes. A few chain stores. Estate agents, travel agents and banks. Cafes, pubs and takeaway restaurants. Reminds you of Camden Town or the Kilburn High Road on a Saturday. You’re glad it’s neither.

At the watch-repair stand in Debenhams the man behind the counter fitted a simple leather strap to replace the frayed and mouldy fabric one on your 10-year-old Seiko. For the first time in two years you set date and time and strapped on a wristwatch.

Inadvertent images: the tracking device worn by a paroled convict; a hospital patient’s ID bracelet; a tagged foot poking out from under the sheet on a mortuary slab.

Back home the tots are rambling happily around the apartment, two chums visiting with their ever-cheerful maman.

Dropping the rental car off. the girl at the counter is a contented emigre from across the border. Says the pace of life is easier here, the people more friendly. You learn something about the invisble rankings among the districts that ring the centre of town. The U and the non-U.

 

This inflatable mattress

far firmer before you jumped on it for

two days!

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