TWO TRAMPS by Nigel Ford

A man neatly dressed carrying a small brown suitcase walked down the towpath with deliberate steps as if to a destination. Most others walk the towpath in ad hoc fashion. A large American stars & stripes sticker decorates one side of the suitcase facing outwards towards the river. This man is walking from roughly west to east.

A woman neatly dressed walks up the towpath carefully and swiftly as if late for an appointment. She carries a medium-sized brown suitcase of the reinforced cardboard type upon which a small Union Jack sticker was affixed onto the outside of the lid. She is walking along the towpath from roughly east to west.

The distance to the bench on the towpath from each of these persons is roughly equidistant and they are planning to arrive at the bench at approximately the same time, which they do.

Seated on the bench, staring at the river, these two people sat with their respective suitcases placed on the ground between their legs.

‘Swop?’ asked the woman.

‘Good idea,’ replied the man.

They then exchanged suitcases.

They sat staring at the river for a while.

‘Peaceful,’ said the man.

‘Very nice,’ agreed the woman and stretched and stood up. ‘Shall we get going?’

‘By all means,’ the man agreed. ‘In which direction? East or West?’

‘We’ve done both East and West haven’t we. We can tell each other all about it,’ the woman pointed out.

‘North or South then,’ suggested the man.

‘Yes. One of those. South perhaps,’ the woman touched a finger to her lips. ‘Warmer. Sunshine would be nice.’

‘Good idea,’ said the man and rose.

Balancing their suitcases on their heads they waded across the river, walked up the bank on the other side, and disappeared from view.



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