Dulltown, Europe: Today’s architectural term is ‘Escarp’ – the bank or wall immediately in front of and below the rampart. It is often the inner side of the fosse.
My escarp was the inner side of my fosse; people used to admire it and would always compliment me on it.
She said, ‘Oh look!… Fishes!… Wow!…’
It was a mother speaking to her little boy who was sitting in a pushchair down by her side on Monument Bridge here in Dulltown, oh, and by the way it’s not actually a bridge, but it used to be a long time ago. It’s now just a short stretch of pavement with iron railings (very nice old ones) along one side, which are there to stop people from falling into Prince’s Dock. Er… come to think of it, is it still called ‘Prince’s Dock’ now that it’s got that ugly shopping centre built on legs in the middle of it? Yes, I suppose it is, Princes Quay shopping centre is in Prince’s Dock. (more on this) I’m glad we’ve got that cleared up dear reader… Oh, by the way, I see that the good old dock is clinging on to its apostrophe, but the shopping centre has of course not bothered with such petty old-fashioned things…
Anyway, the mother was pointing through the railings at the water where there was a gleaming gang of stocky goldfish zigzagging around.
‘Oh look!… Fishes!.. Wow!…’ she exclaimed and pointed down at them several feet below. Some of the fish glanced up at her over their shoulders as they swooped about practising their square-dancing. The little boy (it might have been a little girl of course, it’s hard to tell when they are that small) stared at his mother open-mouthed with a puzzled look on his chubby little face.
The reason was obvious to me. There is a long thick stone base from which the railings sprout, and from the lad’s low position he hadn’t a hope in hell of seeing over it and spotting any cavorting fish.
The mother carried on with her piscatorial cooing and gesturing oblivious of the fact that the child couldn’t actually see ’em. He turned his head up to look at her with a look that said, ‘Mum, I don’t know what you are going on about! How about getting me some ice cream?…’
I did once read that one of the fundamental differences between men and women is that men are supposed to have a better sense of spacial awareness. I can’t say that I’ve noticed this myself, and of course this might have been discredited years ago, but it could possibly account for Mum assuming that little Billy could also easily see what she was seeing.
I suppose I could have ambled over and pointed this out to her, but that’s not really the sort of thing that one does, is it?… I am English after all…