You sit motionless on a wall, head tilted down, clasping a carrier bag. Are your eyes closed? We think you might be asleep, so we approach quietly. Men in suits laugh loudly, obnoxiously, behind you. A gold letterbox glitters to your left. I risk a 'Hello’.
You are perfectly alert, perfectly awake.
We have a conversation. Your answers are fast and short and attentive, delivered in a voice that sounds underused. They come just before the end of my questions. Your head is turned shyly away from us, smiling. You glance at us only briefly before looking away again as if we were sunlight, too bright on the eyes.
‘I’m on a diet. I have indigestion problems. I can only eat soup.
I used to work down the docks.'
I ask if soup is what you’ll be having today. You nod gracefully, amused. There’s a stillness about you, a warmth, that draws us both in like moths to a flame.
I ask if you’re getting bored of soup. This makes you laugh. Your laugh, a single event of joy.
I wonder if we are the first people to have given you sympathy for the monotony of your soup.
When asked if you would like your picture taken, there is no doubt. Your 'Yes’ is immediate, certain, proud.
It is very difficult to walk away from you.
Vox popper and writer
Lunch Spots was commissioned by Leeds Indie Food Festival in 2015. I interviewed the people of Leeds about their lunch, generating lots of fascinating stories and some incredibly moving encounters. From these exchanges I wrote pieces of flash fiction, which were published by LIFF throughout the festival, along with portrait photography by Luke Hannaford.
Here's an example of one of the pieces.