There was the young woman walking her dog just up the street, and the crowds of people at the cafe in John Street Square having their lunch break sitting around tables and laughing and talking. There was the man in the hi-vis shirt going into the building that is still - after all these long months - being renovated. There was a workman threading cable down into a manhole cut into the pavement. There were three young women walking abreast up the street next to the cafe set into the casino, one of whom made way for me as we passed. I saw them all and reflected how lucky I am to live in a society where just going to the pharmacy - to buy subsidised medications that are completely affordable - is a routine part of life.
Here there is no scuttling from doorway to doorway to evade snipers perched on rooftops. There is nowhere the sound of bombs going off just down the street, turning neighbourhoods into piles of indistinguishable rubble. There are no tanks roving through the street machine-gunning people who must run out of the way. We might see from time to time a police car cruising at low speed down the street on the watch for trouble, but that is all. We are truly blessed to live in a country as devoted to peaceful pursuits as this one.
When I got back home I poured myself a glass of wine and sat down to write a blogpost. I thought about Fernando Pessoa writing his curious entries in his journal under the name Bernardo Soares, a "heteronym" he invented to express this aspect of his personality. Pessoa loved his city of Lisbon and was a great flaneur, walking around watching the people go past and cultivating an organic sense of the city in his fecund mind. I have been reading Pessoa since finishing the Karl Ove Knausgard series of autobiographical novels - I still miss lying down in the evening before going to sleep and reading his stories - because a dear friend of mine sent me his 'The Book of Disquiet'. And I have been enjoying it immensely. Knausgard is a hard act to follow, but Pessoa is up to the challenge, and keeps me entertained for the 30 minutes or so that I spend reading each evening in bed.