Found this in a guidebook I picked up in an Amsterdam hostel a few years ago:
Prostitutes. If you visit one of the women, we would like to remind you, they are not always women. Do not take pictures of the women. Out on the streets, do not shout or use bad language towards these women. Show some respect. If you have any problems with a girl or a pimp, do not hesitate to ask a police officer. We know why you are there and you can hardly surprise us. So have fun, enjoy our city, and respect this neighbourhood.
Taken directly from a funeral service booklet:
The minister introduces the service in these or other suitable words
We have come here today
To remember before God our brother/sister N;
To give thanks for his/her life;
To commend him/her to God our merciful redeemer and judge;
To commit his/her body to be buried/cremated,
And to comfort one another in our grief.
A brief tribute may be made.
A hymn may be sung.
Let us commend N to the mercy of God our maker and redeemer.
Remember for good this your servant N
As we also remember him/her
Silence is kept.
The bus station was closed for the night. A woman in a red coat sat waiting for a bus that wouldn’t come for another six hours. Her hair was messy, her face streaked with mascara and there was a pink, plastic suitcase at her feet.
A phone kept ringing out in her pocket. The fourth time she answered it and shouted something Polish and aggressive into the receiver before hanging up.
Twenty minutes later a battered Mondeo pulled into the bus bay. The woman grabbed her suitcase and clambered into the front seat without saying a word to the driver.
There’s a dark pub with low ceilings that sells cheap shots of Jägermeister and is packed during term time. The management cultivates its popularity with students by pinning photos above the bar and leaving one wall empty for graffiti. The young people write slogans and sign their names to prove the pub’s authenticity – it’s their special place, they belong here.
Just before Freshers’ Week, the photos above the bar have gone and the walls are newly whitewashed. There’s a camera and a set of marker pens on a shelf by the optics ready for the next batch of customers.
The pub is empty apart from an elderly man in an electric wheelchair who’s on his fourth Guinness. The lad behind the bar fetches me a dusty bottle of Magners.
‘I’ve never sold one of these before. Is that enough ice?’ he says.
As I’m finishing my drink, the lad’s shift ends. On his way out he goes to the aid of the man in the wheelchair who’s too drunk to manoeuvre through the door. The lad can’t help much as he’s trying to keep hold of the bottle of Magners that he’s got hidden under his jacket.
It’s so hot that on the short walk from the café, the caramel on the top of my flapjack has melted. The garden’s packed – I sit amid a huge family who’ve spread out over four picnic tables.
The young child in the pushchair starts screaming as I wait for my tea to brew. There are toilets and baby changing facilities within spitting distance but instead the dad changes her on the seat of the bench opposite.
When the nappy comes off it’s directly in my eyeline. The gooey caramel sliding off my flapjack doesn’t look quite so appetising anymore.
The blonde woman in the long black coat clacked along the platform in stilettos. In one hand she pulled a shiny suitcase on wheels, in the other, a lead attached to a tiny Yorkshire Terrier with gleaming fur and a bow on its collar. It was the kind of dog you normally see carried and cooed over – something you’d expect to be called ‘Precious’ or ‘Bitsy’.
As the woman reached the open door of the train, she lifted the case aboard, stepped up a foot or so onto the carriage and yanked the dog behind her by its neck.
The lad’s sitting on a BMX by the train doors. The bike has skin-scraping metal tubes in the centre of each wheel for doing tricks. Each tube is white and unscratched. He rolls backwards and forwards as he talks about his job, loudly:
‘So the airlines tell us the movie they want, yeh? Our company buys the rights for them? Then we edit the movie and send it to the airline?’
‘Prick,’ I think.
Then a woman approaches the doors with a pram and before I think about it, the lad’s off his BMX and helping her off the train.
A conversation between my polite friend and a drunk. My friend mentioned he was a writer.
‘What do you write then?’
‘But non-fiction is still fiction.’
’Not really. It’s kind of the exact opposite.’
‘It’s still fictitious though, right?’
‘No, the clue’s in the title. Non-fiction covers a vast array of genres and the only thing that links them is the fact that they are not fictitious. Non-fiction is defined by the absolute, categorical certainty that the one thing it isn’t, is fiction.’
‘So, it’s like a latin thing then, yeah? What’s your novel about?’