January 12, 2005
Street Cleaner

Although there are a few that stay open until 11pm - most of the fruit and veg shops on my local High Street close at around 7pm. And regular as clockwork - there’s a guy from the Council’s street cleansing department subcontractor patiently waiting for the shops to shut down before he gets to work. He just stands there with his sweeping brush and trolley. Patiently waiting outside the next store to close. Waiting for the shop workers to remove their wares from the public pavement (sidewalk) before he gets into action. Which almost invariably involves sweeping up squashed tomatoes, mangoes, cherries and lychees. It’s always the same guy. He looks to be in his late twenties. The shop owners must get to know him quite well - because he just stands there - sometimes in the bitter cold or driving rain. Just waiting . Sometimes he smokes a cigarette whilst he’s waiting. I have seen him many times - and the way he just stands there is very distinct: he is expressionless - and adopts a very serene sort of posture - but always makes eye contact in a fashion that is slightly disturbing. Standing motionless for as long as takes me to pop in at the last minute to grab a few groceries before closing time.

Street cleaner patiently waiting for the fruit and veg shop to close.

Posted by jag at January 12, 2005 09:22 PM
Reminds me of a photo essay of the old Berlin wall. There were these pictures of East German guards that used to stand as sentries for hours at a time in cold damp weather. They had a look that used to be referred to as .. "The Thousand yard stare". Posted by: Fritz on January 12, 2005 10:06 PM
Hi Fritz; interesting comparison. I think I know exactly what that "thousand yard stare" is like! Quirkily - your comment reminded me of some pics that my friend Marcus took not long after the Berlin Wall came down. If you go to: http://www.marcuskern.com/assets/flash/projector.htm and select "Timely" you can see a pic of a Berlin checkpoint. (You might have to close the "Easyspace" banner in order to step through the pictures properly.) Many of the other pics (especially in the "people" category) are extremely moving. Posted by: Jag on January 12, 2005 10:37 PM
Hi Jag, thanks for the link over to mine. I really ought to upload some more pictures to the projector and sort out the banner issue. I also know the guards that Fritz is talking about. I used to live in West-Berlin and in my time there visited East-Berlin a few times. Right on the main Parade-street was a memorial building, where the GDR officially remebered and honoured the Holocaust victims. It's called the "Neue Wache" (New Guard) and was guarded by two soldiers of honour 24/7 for decades. Here are two pictures: http://www.ddr-im-www.de/Berichte/SCR/9.htm http://www.dewitt.photographer.org.uk/Annotate/images/berlin13.jpg The precision and stone-faced stamina of the soldiers was both impressing and frightening at the same time. Posted by: Snappy on January 12, 2005 11:39 PM
Jag .Thanks for the link. Snappy you are right on the money with the pictures of the guards, those guys were hardcore. I also enjoyed looking at your site ,excellent work. Posted by: Fritz on January 13, 2005 03:04 AM
Good to see some clearing up is done. A year or so ago I was amazed over in the USA when it was snowing. We were in a bar at 11.00pm outside it was coming down fast, and all around the shopping area we were near a team of guys on small snow plough things were working feverishly to keep it clear.. I can't imagine that happening on UK pavements, especially not at 11.00pm Posted by: Brom-man on January 13, 2005 11:31 PM
Everybody has his job - and so does he. I think even the Royal Guards at the forecourt to the Buckingham Palace are like that - stonefaced and not twitching at all - almost like a statue. I don't know if its supposed to be frightening or not, though. Posted by: sat on January 14, 2005 12:20 AM
It's hard to be frightening when you have to wear a hat like that. Cuddly is more like it. Posted by: David on January 14, 2005 08:05 AM
Brom-man: I think I know exactly what you mean - it might have something to do with the highly litigious society that exists in USA; I mean: you might get sued if you someone slipped on the snoe and hurt themselves! (I understand that this is the case in Germany - as a homeowner you are responsible for clearing snow and ice from the path outside your house.) Sat: Yes- just like the guards outside Buck Palace. I, too, wonder whether the stony-faced look is meant to be deliberately frightening ... David: I suppose you mean the cuddly hats that the Royal guards wear. If so - I agree with you! More like cuddly ;-) Posted by: Jag on January 14, 2005 08:34 PM
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