February 23: life as an urban flaneur

When you are a city flaneur like myself you find any number of strategies to avoid spending money. Last week I saw two nice shirts in a shop but they were about £50 each. Too much for my meagre purse. Here’s how I go about it. Stage one: I have registered an interest in these items. Stage two: I go back in a week and have another look. I am looking clinically for things that are wrong with them. Maybe I cut my interest down to just one of the shirts. Stage three: I give it another week. Now I am just looking at one of the shirts. I may try it on and the problem may resolve itself, i.e. I look hideous in it. And so my objective (not to spend money) has been accomplished. What did it? Simply spreading the decision out over as big a time period as possible. What then happens is that the changes and shifts in your temperament and tastes over an aggregated period cause you to find an imperfection in your purchase and so not to buy. Your appetite has been quashed.

Other urban negotiations that you become an expert in mainly concern toilets: how to locate them and get in and out of them without restaurant or bar staff noticing you are using their facilities and not buying a drink. You get to know where the Gents are placed in which pubs. By the entrance; on the upper floor; at the back of the saloon bar under the vigilant regard of an over-eager bartender.  In winter months when the bladder is under greatest pressure, these skills are most required. It is then that my competences as an urban strategist are most to the fore.

If, in the instance with the £50 shirt, my appetite has to be suppressed; so, in the business of the toilets, that appetite, or rather requirement, must needs be placated. As an urban flaneur, these are just a couple of the variegated skills that must be mastered.

















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