Steve, red shoes in the square


At some time during the 1970s during a spectacular rubbish strike to Steve’s delight Leicester Square had filled up with a veritable mountain of black plastic rubbish sacks which mirrored the black fat stalactites that hung below the square occasionally causing the sewers to overflow and backfill the cafes and cinemas. At this time Steve was working in a bookshop on the Charing Cross road and was enjoying an ongoing chain of European girlfriends, Dutch, German, Austrian, Swedish and an expatriate American living in Italy with a Count (She said). Which whilst not really relevant to what follows caused him much pleasure and pain at the time and which now many years later he still thinks about occasionally.

He had just bought a pair of red shoes from the natural shoe store and was trying them out for size and comfort by wandering around the square when he came across a TV news crew talking at great length about the plastic sack mountain. The reporter was an American woman dressed in frightful clothes with an appalling amount of makeup spread across her face. She was practising her introduction saying "...There is no more obvious representation of the state of Britain today than to stand here and look at the piles of rubbish... ‘ Camera pans right to focus on the sacks of rubbish. This annoys Steve a great deal because he rather likes the state of Britain today and it seems to him that a swift kick up the cameraman’s fundament is called for. He asks an adjacent ice cream salesperson who was looking on with a bemused expression whether he should kick the man with the camera, the soundman, the director or the reporter ? The ice cream person looks them over, scrutinising them like a Kudu looking over a Kenyan waterhole at the local lion and suggests the reporter because her face might fall off. The reporter repeats her litany for the third time ...the state of Britain today... Somebody walks between the camera eye and the reporter. Causing the cameraman to mutter comments about her parents. The reporter try’s again ...the state of Britain today... But the woman walks back behind the reporter and smiles maliciously over the reporters shoulder at the cameraman. Steve wonders if red shoes which you bought for reasons related to dance are best suited to kick cameramen or reporters ? But there you are, red is a suitably dynamic colour. Yes I’m here but which one ? Turn, three steps forward kick. Hey, goes the cameraman, starting forward but the director , who is head of the guild of American directors in Europe’ says with great loudness, Don’t make waves, this weather is enough as it is, the heat is enough, calmness must prevail, the event is of no consequence and besides we are filming illegally and that building over there is a police station filled with officers who have not recovered from the last protest meeting of the garbage men, which is the sort of thing that we bourgeois men talk of when we perceive old men acting in this fashion.

That’s right says the soundman who always agrees with the director, no aggression here ... Such rubbish you talk says Steve.... He attacked me... Says the reporter indignantly, who is beginning to whine, That is irrelevant we shall not respond. But I was only talking about the state of things in general not in particular.

Worse yet, interrupts Steve, I am going to stand on the corner over there and wait for you. Let’s see if you can take the state of being pummelled as well as taking me for an idiot. That’s strange right in front of the police station. Naturally, says Steve, let us see how much of a ***** you take me for. This is now history, says the director, thinking of his non-existent work permit, there is no need for a duel, please don’t make me order you to be peaceful and other things like that are said. Absolutely right agrees the soundman.

At which point Steve wanders across the road and stands on the corner where his mirrored shades flash in the sunshine. Nobody comes looking for him, to his relief, so after ten minutes he wanders north through Chinatown to celebrate with cigarettes and a beer on Old Compton Street.

Steve, on a society of consumption

Introduction to the Hypertext Novel

Back to Outwork 1

Steve de Vos - London 07/12/98