A man stood and watched me tie my shoelace today. He stopped in his tracks and stared at me as I crouched there outside Debenhams. I looked up and smiled, but I didn’t really know what to do or say so I just carried on while he watched. I was very aware of his presence and my fingers went all fiddly. He got me wondering whether I do it in a strange way, or something. I don’t think my tying method is at all unusual. In fact, I think it’s about as standard as tying methods get.
I stood up and acknowledged him but he wasn’t looking at me. He was still looking at my feet. He was quite tatty looking – his face was stubbly and his shoes were well worn. It was a warm day but he was wearing a long coat, which had a dark stain on the lapel. In his hand was a plain white carrier bag with a hole in it. He didn’t have much hair, and there were dark circles under his eyes. He wasn’t saying anything and I had places to be, so I started to walk away when he spoke:
‘Your shoes look like wallpaper.’
‘….Thank you?’ I said, unsure how to reply.
‘They’re very floral, like wallpaper. Like my mother’s wallpaper. She loved her wallpaper. Her ‘wall meadow’ she used to call it.’
‘Sounds nice,’ I said.
And then he walked away.


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