Clusters of schoolchildren swamped in the greens, blues, blacks and whites of their uniform huddle around the string of shops. The buzz of chatter is like the low-pitched rumble of a swarm of bees. Sherbet-coated smiles reveal blue-tinged tongues and the children delve into their edible treasures. Bikes lie at awkward angles, looking almost broken, awaiting their owners’ return. But as the crescendo of chatter arrives, bikes are forgotten amid the gossip. A few slumped shoulders enter the shop alone. Probably looking for something to perk up their senses. Tired, or sad, lonely or just alone, the contrast between their solitary silence and the buzz of buddies slices the groups apart.
Lips are licked, blue faded from tongues, and an abrupt urgency arises. Fluttering, the crowds disperse. Bikes regain their pose as noble steeds to the green-shirted gentlemen. Thoughts of tea and homework and football practice emerge in the young minds, quickening their pace. And within minutes the clusters are gone. The shops look bare with just a sparse collection of passers-by. Weary signs flop from age and posters on the windows tremble in the breeze.