Being In Time


On Saturday at 06:30 I experienced Something Good outside Birmingham Cathedral; dawn happened. As Dan Jones’ composition for the cathedral choir swirled around the churchyard, the streetlights clicked off in small clusters and a felt the lightness that came from realising that when I had arrived it had been the night and now, possibly fifteen minutes later, it had become the day. Although I have more than a passing acquaintance with dawn I cannot recall the last time I experienced like this. Usually I am in my own world noting the presence of dawn with more or less pleasure, on Saturday I experienced being in time and it was a joyous feeling.

Later in the day, was brought up short by time once more. The man from whom I normally choose to buy lemons, limes and coxes apples at the Birmingham Market wasn’t there. He wasn’t a friend; we’d exchange pleasantries about the weather, my status as a cyclist (he’d once saved my cycle helmet from one day to the next) and Eve’s penchant for a sausage sandwich. He wasn’t a friend, but that didn’t stop it been sad when, drawing closer to his regular pitch I saw the floral tribute and a card inscribed with the message something like “To Billy, a true legend of the market. We will miss you. From your friends, staff and traders”.

I love the markets, they are one of my favourite things about Birmingham and that tribute sums it up, there’s a dignity about the markets that I admire. I’ll miss Billy too but I expect someone will take his place. Carl was a legend of the market, but when he retired (getting out
time before he was got by time) he passed his stall on and now I have a brief but pleasant chat with the new guy. Most recently he spoke about how how rugby has become his new Number 1 Sport as “Villa have let me down too many times” and now time has run out on that team as well… though in truth that is stretching the time thing as against Australia that clock didn’t stop a moment too soon.

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