It’s a bright morning. A light breeze. A blackbird is singing in the sycamore tree above the nerf gun bullets in the gutter. Two furloughed men in polo shirts are talking loudly across an expanse of Luxury Artificial Grass—no mowing, no watering, no weeding. ‘It’s our lass’s birthday today’ says the one in the navy blue shorts. ‘Did you get her owt?’ Asks the other one in the navy blue shorts. ‘A shredder. She’s always shredding stuff and the old one’s broken.’ ‘Oh. Have you heard about Little Richard…?’
In the garden a few doors down the derelict trailer containing pebbledash concrete shed panels has been consumed by clocking dandelions and stinging nettles. Stuck to the inside of the window of the front room with sellotape, above the model of a soldier in a red tunic and bearskin hat, a glass union jack ashtray and a large woodpecker assembled from pieces of scrap metal, there’s a Thank You NHS rainbow cut from the local paper. Quite a large woman in floral leggings is bent over a large plastic terracotta-look plant pot with a trowel in one hand and a tray of seedlings in the other. ‘These are just gonna do one, I can tell.’ she says. ‘I can tell, they’re just gonna do one, they’ve had it”. A thin man in jeans, holding a cigarette stands over her. “Be careful, love” he says. ‘I AM being careful, they’re just falling apart!’
‘I think I might be pregnant’ says a man to his neighbour over a weathered overlap fence. ‘How come?’ says the neighbour. ‘I’ve been eating a whole cucumber every day these last few weeks’. ‘They’re refreshing though, aren’t they?’
The window cleaners are discussing the coronavirus with the occupier of the end terrace. He’s come outside in bare feet with cigarettes and tea “It wor man-made, wan’t it? It wor man-made. They’ve made it in a lab and it’s mutated, an’t it?” An elderly man shuffles past in salwar kameez, a face mask worn over his chin and bottom lip.
The new estate of detached period simulacra—all Jags and Range Rovers—smells strongly of the weed smoke that is pluming from the open window of one of the council houses that backs onto it.
“Wee wees! Don’t mess me about! Wee wees, now!” says the woman with the lockdown hairstyle to her unenthusiastic Border terrier.
Back out on the main road, a man in his 30s, flat cap over long hair, pool sliders under long jeans, liberates a large illustrated book about birds from the skip outside number two. Behind him in the road, a pristine scavenging jackdaw is wrestling with something wedged between the crack of a manhole cover and the asphalt.
Under the railway bridge out of the park and on past the walls and trees in ivy. Up the mother-die lined footpath next to the mid-century brick substation with the vernacular perches for the tired witches. Above the tree-line an aerobatic hobby versus swift chase is underway and, around the corner where the road starts again, local blues guitar legend and leatherworker George Gray is out for a walk in an ill-judged puffa coat.