In my northern market town there is a little sun-trap of a square, and a coffee shop with no equal. To sit outside, and feel the first rays of spring sun, with a coffee and a salted caramel slice, is heaven.
Surrounding the square are Edwardian buildings with big doors and old windows. Some of them are now offices for architects and artists.
As I sat one April afternoon a man appeared at the upper window opposite. He was stalking something with a newspaper. Whatever it was, it was invisible to me. The man was aiming furious swipes.
I could tell by the angle of sun on window that I, the observer, was also invisible to him, the observee. The man. Locked in a taut struggle with his invisible winged foe.
He was red in the face, and ridiculous in his efforts, unaware he was being watched.
And then he turned to face me, staring intently out of the window, newspaper raised. Had he spotted me watching? Was I now visible?
He stared out, I stared back, and several moments passed. He then took one terminal, almighty swing at whatever had just landed on the window pane. Whether he hit it or not, I’ll never know.
I do know that he hit the window pane.
As I said, it was an old window. The glass was brittle. It smashed on contact with the newspaper (judging by the look of the man – old fella, country squire type – probably a Daily Telegraph).
Glass tinkled down into the square.
The man stood, frozen, in a jagged frame of broken glass.
The entire contents of the coffee shop looked up at him, and sniggered.
He almost certainly wished he was invisible.