Jones’ life story had moved me with its honesty and kindness of spirit. Once he had finished his tale, a shadow seemed to pass over him. For a time he sat and stared into the expanse of the park, lost in another time and reliving the past emotions that had brought him to where he sat now. As quickly as the shadow came, it passed. Alan was gone and only Hobo Jones remained, a genial twinkle in his eye with none of the sadness of his former self. Slapping his thighs decisively, as if to draw an end to any past discussions, he stood up.
“There’s a party tonight, and I’d like you to come. You’re new here and you should meet the rest of our community. An old place is reopening, you could call it the source of blues in this town.” His tone was nonchalant but I could tell that this meant a lot to him; fingering his harmonica lightly, and examining the marks and scratches that covered its metallic surface.
“It would be my pleasure.” I had no plans, I was yet to even arrange any accommodation. A worry suddenly hit me, what was I doing here in Milton Keynes? How had I left myself in the unenviable position of homelessness? “Could I stay at your place tonight, Jones?”
“I thought you’d never ask, lets go there now.” And so we walked, as Jones was wont to do everywhere. Through and out of Ouzel Valley Park, leaving behind the memories that my guide had wrenched up from deep within him. “You’ll find my home a little strange, no doubt, I hope you like laminate wooden flooring!” I laughed, thinking this was some kind of strange comment that I was not yet privy to, but as we turned a corner, I understood why the attempt at a joke was made.
Standing out from the rows of red brick homes along the terrace street that we were walking by, stood a house in stark comparison to the rest. A single storey wooden shack stood proudly in the midst of the middle-class suburbia. Clad in beautifully smooth wooden laminate, and gleaming in the midday sun it was quite the sight to behold. “I didn’t do it all myself”, Jones mumbled shyly, “A travelling salesman helped me design and build it.’
I stood there dumbfounded, that a man such as Jones could have been so easily swayed by a company man. As we entered the quaint domain; another surprise awaited me, the entirety of the interior was decked out in wooden laminate; the floors, ceiling, walls, furniture and kitchen. A strong scent of citrus filled the air, and I soon discovered the source of this. Jones, once again, looked bashful. What must have been hundreds of cans of wood polish lined one side of the house, creating a shining mirage of blue and yellow. “Wooden laminate flooring has to be looked after and… I guess I like the smell.” This was a man who never ceased to surprise me, I wondered casually, how much of a fire hazard this place was.