6 Oct 2009

Heart and Sole

I'd heard the rumours, I'd never believed them.

For over 20 years I've walked, staggered and driven past this place- my dry-cleaners is next door. I thought it had been evacuated in a panic; leaving behind a dust encapsulated flash-frame from the 50's. I had to do a double-take, but for sure there he was, fixated, gazing over the barricade of post-war posters. Rooted to the spot with a Gerry can of glue in one hand and brush in the other, stood the Myth of Merchiston - Jock the Cobbler.
 I made my move, entering his world before he evaporated. It was as if I'd fallen into a nail-bar trash can. Classical music squeezed out of tin speakers like Camembert through a cheese-grater. When my eyes had done flushing I stood over him like Chewbacca towering above Yoda. I introduced myself like someone who'd come from the future. Jock craned his head and looked at me as though I was the curiosity!
 He's "been here the whole time. Fifty year an' mare". He only ever ventures into in the shop-front to deal with the customers. The magic happens in the back; where he guards his secret of longevity. Further investigation revealed that Jock turns 90 in two days time. He stuck his glinting eye on me and demanded to know where I'd got my information. I wasn't going to grass-up my source - Jean from the cleaners next door is a woman not to cross.
 Jock tells me being 90 has it's drawbacks: when trying to buy travel insurance the broker hung up when he told her his D.O.B was 1919. "My kid's didnae gae me a party when I turned 80" he rued, "so I dinnae see 'em fussin' o'er 90." I tried to envisage his kids! "Still," I irk him "he's got a letter from the Queen to look forward to in his old age". He rose to the bait and took great delight in beheading my jibe.

  When I asked him to be photographed he held my wrist like he was taking my pulse. I think he was checking if I was for real.