** He was here the first day I sat down in the Warsaw media centre. Wandering, wandering, up and down, up and down, weaving in and out, in and out and from end to end between the rows of empty desks and chairs from one end of the cavernous hall to the other.
He is still here now. Still wandering. He’s early 50s, thinning but tidy grey hair; round steel-rimmed spectacles on a long thin nose; nondescript khaki jacket; blue jeans which are faded through age and wear not fashion; once-white trainers of a style and design which wouldn’t pass muster at Adidas or Nike . . . and his media accreditation flapping across his chest.
He is always dressed the same. Maybe he has a wardrobe full of khaki jackets, faded jeans and dilapidated trainers.
He needs a wardrobe-full of trainers if this how he spends his life: wandering, up and down, in and out, end to end.
He catches the eye not for his clothes, not even for his repetitious meandering but for the way he walks. Bird like.
He has ever such a slight forward stoop. So, like some exotic wader, he struts his repetitious path. He is like an old heron, a resemblance accentuated by the way his eyes dart from side to side down the rows of desks and chairs as he wanders, up and down, in and out, end to end.
He does stop. Occasionally. Then he perches himself on a chair at the very end of one of the desks. It’s as if he is ready to take wing again at a moment’s notice and resume his flight path, up and down, in and out, end to end.
He behaves like some sort of sneak thief, I thought, the first day. But I must apologise for the thought: that impression was merely a product of the conditioning to which we are all subjected (to profitable purpose) by the security industry.
He is, I think now, a lost soul serving out an eternal punishment. Maybe he was the one journalist in all of the country who missed The Story: that Poland had been awarded half-shares in hosting Euro 2012.
He, maybe, was the one single reporter who didn’t answer the phone call bearing the news; or who saw it and spiked the story; or the TV executive who was watching The Simpsons on another screen just as The Story broke on a rival channel.
He has been sentenced to patrol, for time and all eternity, the media centres of world sport, forever on the look-out for the one big story that he is doomed never to find.
I could, of course, just walk up to him, introduce myself, and we would doubtless share a few moments of fractured foreign languages exchanging opinions on the footballing merits of Poland or England, Lewandowski or Rooney, Szczesny or Hart.
I know that this would be the sensible, grown-up, human course of action.
I also know I won’t do that.
I have grown too attached to the fantasy of the lost (journalistic) soul.
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** One of the indulgences of controlling ones own website is sharing such occasional flights of fancy . . .
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