Clapham High Street. I’m upstairs waiting for the right sort of wine to be poured in the bar behind me, having a smoke. I’m sat on the jutted out part of the wall below the grimy windows, in front of the bickering doormen, a bit apart from the couple to my right. It’s chilly but refreshing. The air is damp but it’s not raining. The breeze portends Spring on the way or perhaps it’s the yearning hope of South Londoners after a winter of wearing all their clothes, all the time.
For entertainment I look up to the road. My view is blocked by a partition made of black plastic material, which separates the pub’s piece of pavement from the public’s piece of pavement and the kerb. I wonder if in a few years’ time we’ll project screens onto barriers such as these to provide distraction for a lonely smoke. I glance to my left.
Cars drive slowly past. Cyclists meander. People walk to and from their evenings, wrapping scarves around themselves, hugging jackets close, pulling beanies over wet fringes. One glove lies on the pavement. Palm up. A left hand. Grey suede. Its fingers curled up and beckoning.
Did the owner fling it at someone, challenging them to an 18th century duel; “retract those words Sir, or suffer the consequences. She is a lady, I will not hear speak of her in that way. Prepare to die.”
Perhaps the now de-gloved one was bundled into a taxi, against his will and, having perceived that this may happen smuggled a pre-written note into one of the fingers to leave a clue as to his strange disappearance; “this glove will lead you to a deposit box where there is a key and a note. I can say no more for fear of putting you in grave danger. Do not alert the police. They are involved at the highest levels and you will be placed in even more peril. This glove will self-destruct in 30 seconds.”
I entertain the idea that the glove is part of an ill-advised treasure hunt when I am dripped on from the awning above me. I remember that I’m in Clapham and stand up with a sigh; the abandoned glove is clearly the victim of a drunken transition from pavement to vehicle – no treasure-hunt, doomed romance, or international spy mystery in sight. My wine is poured, my friend awaits me downstairs. I start off down the spiral staircase out of the cold. The doormen, now on the other side of their quarrel, move to let me pass.
I recall years ago, at Law School, I lost a glove.
Luckily, there was a man on the course who only had one hand. Cautious fellow students already in “litigate at 3 paces” mode, advised me not to ask him, don’t draw attention to the fact that he only has one hand, don’t make an issue of it. Like it would be possible for him to forget that he only had one hand – ineffectively reaching for a pen and losing his balance as his body naturally followed through his movements, trying to scratch his brow but it remained stubbornly itchy, giving the bus driver a nothing instead of the bus-pass that was in his back pocket. Oops, silly me. Where oh where did I leave my hand? Oh yes, that’s right. I left it in a car when I was 6 where I also left my arm and my parents. Cheers. I’d forgotten until you asked about your glove.
Undeterred I approach him. Simon, I lost a glove. Would you like the remaining one? He smiles at me. Would I? Do you know how hard it is buying just one glove? This is great, thanks!
It fit perfectly.