On our walk this morning I was made to pause while Monty investigated a big pile of leaves. I imagine it contained an alluringly complex aroma, made up of the wees of many dogs, with some fox poo. Anyway, while I was waiting, something landed on my head. I was a bit startled, as I had my earphones in, and had tuned out of the world. I may have uttered a cry of some kind. Perhaps a little screech. I put my hand to my head, and found that a leaf had landed on me – a huge London plane tree leaf, the size of a sheet from a tabloid newspaper. My mood changed from apprehension to wonder. In all my years of mooching around under trees, I couldn’t remember a single case of having been physically struck by a leaf – let alone have one land on me like that, as if deliberately piloted. ‘Steady, steady, two degrees to port … NOW, reverse thrusters!!!!’
I was marvelling at this when I noticed that a striking young woman was approaching me along the pavement. She was wearing flappy, purple velvet trousers – the term loon pants came into my head, though I don’t know if that’s right. Loon must come from pantaloons, which means trousers, so the whole thing has the whiff of tautology about it – a pair of trousers called trouser trousers. She was carrying a cat box. I don’t think there was a cat in it. Or anything (I mean there wasn’t a snake or a monkey in the cat box). But that’s not necessarily the sign of madness – there are all kinds of reasons why you might be carrying an empty cat box around with you. Do I mean cat box? The thing you carry cats in – wicker-work, with a metal grill at the front … She had a lovely face, and vast, Van der Graaf generator hair.
Now this not unattractive young woman gave me a big smile. I suppose she must have seen the leaf fall on my head. And I smiled back. But then I wondered if all she’d seen was me putting my hand up to my head, which now had a leaf on it. Did she think I was the kind of person who put giant leaves on their head? Either a free spirit, or village idiot. And was she smiling condescendingly at the village idiot, or because she sensed an affinity – she with her enormous, flapping loon pants and empty cat box, and me with my leaf? I reduced my smile by about 30%, and pulled Monty away from the leaves. I should probably have made some amusing remark about her cat box – something about Schrödinger perhaps. But then who knows what might have happened?