Thursday, 5 July 2018

It’s Been a Windy Night ll

It’s been a windy night. 

A crow with no tail flies out from the bushes on the central reservation of the dual carriageway. It flaps frantically up onto one of the tall new LED street lamps. Down on the ground, a ginger Tom cat emerges from the bushes too, its mouth full of feathers. 

An old Jaguar XJ scrapes noisily past with part of a tree wedged under its front end

A large McDonalds take-out cup is embedded in the ivy on the stone steps next to the chip shop. The narrow footpath down to the big house is littered with sycamore helicopters, small prematurely ejaculated conkers, and an unusual reddy-brown frog.
“The door is open”. The disembodied adenoidal woman on the control panel at the flats is unequivocal.
Outside again and a small dog attacks my leg and tears a large hole my trousers. 
A sparrowhawk darts silently past at eye level before suddenly swooping dramatically upwards and into the tree where the woodpigeons have all been flapping about noisily. A blackbird sounds the alarm.
A trellis of clematis has blown over at the house with the sign on the gatepost: Beware of the wife.

A pair of grounded jackdaw chicks huddle in the undergrowth, blown from their nests in the night.
On, into the village where the aroma of cheap scented candles and accreted dog piss pervades. A large Cross of St George hangs from the first floor window of a brick and pebbledash terrace. There is music; too quiet to discern exactly what kind at first, but it gets louder: I Want to Break Free by Queen. An old Toyota decorated with badly applied decals of scorpions rounds the bend at the top of the hill and the music is loud enough to turn heads. The car skids slightly as it pulls up against the kerb. The driver waits for the song to finish before turning off the ignition, winding up the the windows and climbing out.

Beer bottles glint in the sun on the parched yellow verge.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

6am in the park: water vapour hangs in a mist above the pond

6am in the park: water vapour hangs in a mist above the pond, a blackbird sings in the flowering hawthorne, azaleas and primulas bloom around the feet of the Boar war infantryman and the fat pigeon pecks at the plastic portion control packaging underneath the bench.

A flustered looking man on a tiny moped pulls over to ask me directions to Buxton. I tell him to head for the hills and keep on going for three or four hours. He looks a bit blank and then asks where the nearest petrol station is.

I follow the door-to-door salesmen as they “luvvie" and “matey” their way along the row of red brick inter-war semis. Twenty years ago, number 43 had a wooden lean-to conservatory in chicken-house green which was filled with beautiful red geraniums. Now, the old wooden structure has gone, replaced with a new one in battleship-grey double-glazed UPVC. Inside, the geraniums have gone too, instead there is now a rowing machine and a treadmill.

At the garage: I’m in the queue next to the row of light boxes displaying faded upside-down pictures of sandwiches. In front of me is the short fat man with the Hiace monster truck parked outside. He’s wearing a Stetson hat and talking to the young man with the geometrically precise beard behind the counter, “It says on the thing on the thing that you have to buy a minimum of 50p’s worth of air”. “Oh”, says the young man. “Well, don’t you think that’s a rip off; a quid for some air?” “I don’t know," says the young man.

Hawthorne, cow parsley, lilac, horse chestnut, laburnum, broom, rotary washing lines, and plastic bottles glinting in the gutter. There are three people at the bus stop, an elderly couple in beige with accents of pale green and lavender and a young man in black with accents of white.

The man on his phone at the Co-op describes the wrapping paper he has chosen, “grey with circles and stuff all over it”.

The man in the gilet who is sitting behind me on the bus shouts into his phone, “I’m gonna get off here, gunna go Bar Maroc and I’m gonna stuff my big fat white face with fucking pizza”.

Sitting in gridlock on the M62 I watch the men in pool sliders and ankle tags argue loudly with the bald men in Adidas who are stopping them from using the hard shoulder, "Don't call the police, I'm on remand!"

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Round About Town / Uniformbooks

Uniformbooks' print version of The Most Difficult Thing Ever.

Round About Town

“I see the waxwings again. This time they are in the tree by the ats where the skinny Asian man with the grey jeans and studded belt is trying to gain access by shouting Raymond.” 
—Sunday, 23 January 2011

For the last eight years Kevin Boniface has been writing succinct descriptions of events and incidents that have taken place whilst out and about on his postal round, his daily route taking him from the main sorting of ce to the streets and outlying neighbourhoods above the town.
In these commentaries and records nothing seems to be typical—engaged and disconnected conversations, the observed and the overheard—the everyday activity of life on the move.
With 58 black and white photographs.
KEVIN BONIFACE is an artist based in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. After graduating in art and geography in 1993, he joined the Royal Mail as a postman which has influenced his artwork ever since. Over many years, he has also produced zines, exhibitions, artists’ books, short films, audio recordings and live performances. His previous publications include Where Are You? (2005) and Lost in the Post (2008). 

Available here with free postage:

Friday, 2 March 2018

Round About Town

I've been working with to put together a print version of this blog. The result is Round About Town, available from 20th March. The book comprises the complete text from The Most Difficult Thing Ever—10th August 2010 - 25th February 2018—and 58 black & white photographs taken over the same period.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

It’s the first clear blue day for weeks on the solid and dependable streets of semis

It’s the first clear blue day for weeks on the solid and dependable streets of semis: half brick, half pebbledash. Reliable men polish hatchbacks or further fine-tune already solid fixtures and fittings. King Charles spaniels bask on the backs of settees. There’s no dog shit, no litter. People stop me to talk about the weather. A woodpigeon calls against the gentle background thrum of the busy motorway tributary. Left, into a side street and a step up the aspirational ladder: double bay windows, dormers, steeply pitched roofs, 4x4s on the drives. There are sparrows in the neatly trimmed hedges and there are children in the schoolyard. An elderly woman waits for the Cairn terrier in the little red dog coat to shit under the hedge at the edge of the pavement, her walking stick decorated with souvenir badges. “What a lovely morning!” she says, before bending down to carefully package the mess.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, the owner of the pornographic bookshop is unloading bulk bought dog food systems from a battered Transit van, his Yorkshire terrier tethered to the door handle. A noisy Subaru Impreza farts past at about 60mph with an acid green quad bike in noisy pursuit. Further down, opposite the house with the brass plaque on the front door that reads, ‘A friend in need is a pain in the arse’, a couple are huddled over a phone taking an online quiz at the bus stop next to the pile of energy drink cans. “What’s the day after Pancake Day?” asks the man. “Valentine's Day”, says the woman.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

I’m gagging on the stench of the fetid urine

I’m gagging on the stench of the fetid urine and marinated faeces at the house of the bow-legged terrier called Diesel while over the road a woman in bunny slippers and a bath robe is jumping up and down in a wheelie bin.

A young man in a hoodie sings loudly to himself as he walks past

Eleven magpies and a crow overlook the estate where pretend owls outnumber the human population by two to one: fluorescent silk flowers in tiny porches, pizza sized ha’penny stepping stones, a row of three tiny retrievers with placards around their necks saying ‘Welcome’. Both the Buddha and the donkey that pulls the little wooden cart have lost their heads in the recent frost.

The murky horses look dejected in the steep miry field

Mr Briggs answers his door, legs akimbo, thumbs in belt loops. There are no pleasantries, no hello or good morning, instead, he opens with ‘Well, he’s right in amongst ‘em now, in’t he? “Who, What?” I ask. He nods at his neighbour’s house over the road, “He’s in Goa, in’t he? Moans like hell about ‘em when they come over here, then he goes over there to see them!’

Ensnared black plastic flaps from barbed wire while a solitary starling swanee whistles from a telegraph pole. A long ‘V’ formation of geese honk overhead. I pull up in the van next to the field of jackdaws and rooks—hundreds probably. I get out and slam the door. The jackdaws fly off. The rooks stay put.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Highlights: 2017

*Audio: Beeves

Highlights: 2017

Listening to speaker-phone hip-hop
Fly-tipping your wheelie bin
Playing kerby between two derelict fridges
Driving your Skoda Fabia at high speed while wearing a polyester parka
Trying to look nonchalant while your dog pisses on next door’s gatepost
Playing with your knob in Sports Direct
Eating Pot Noodle in a Portakabin
Kicking the green hamster of sphagnum down the wooden steps
Discussing who will look after the technical side when Geoff’s gone
The dead twigs in plastic pots and the fake bells of All Saints
Mending a caravan and shouting for Susan
Improving Yorkshire’s sewers
Discussing a mutual neighbour: “That twat over the road”
Pushing a baby in a pushchair past some discarded bathroom scales
Snowflakes settling on your luxuriant mahogany perm
Wearing matching purple anoraks
Goldfinches squabbling in polythene trees
Unfashionable bell-bottom jeans in indigo
Galahad Premium Lager and bags of green potatoes
Eating peanuts while the man with the Father Christmas bag-for-life hugs a spaniel
Walking your Akita past the temperance fountain
Threatening to jump from a railway bridge
Gathering around the modular seating at the Hyundai showroom
Decorating your Smart car with an Iron Cross motif and the word ‘Luftwaffe’ in an elaborate jackboot font
Cutting out the word ‘J-Dog’ from some silver foil and displaying it in the window of the cab of your truck
Smashing the windows of a VW Golf and dragging out the driver
Sitting on a bench with analeptic leg shakes and an eagle print t-shirt, smoking weed
Couch grass paving flags and fake lawns in acid green
Wearing Crocs to chamois your Skoda Yeti
A brace of German saloons and a statue of the Buddha
Making use of the pejorative overtones of the word ‘titivate’ while discussing your neighbour’s new outdoor LED display
Walking down Newsome Road with your head in your hands
Arguing about which of you understands dogs the most
jumping from a four foot high garden wall using a Morrison’s bag as a parachute
Leaning on the bins and drinking strong cider
Seeing if you’ve got a bag of Cheetos in the third drawer down
Installing a lurid 3D picture of a blond haired Christ adjacent to the front door of the vicarage
Wearing superman pyjamas to withdraw a tenner
Accidentally going to Whitby during the Goth weekender
Having a bloody funeral to go to

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

5.30a.m.: It’s cold. I don’t go through the park because it’s too icy and too dark in there

5.30a.m.: It’s cold. I don’t go through the park because it’s too icy and too dark in there. Instead, I duck under the overhanging holly at the entrance and walk around. I edge along glistening pavements, past frozen crisp packets, polystyrene cups, shimmering vomit, sticking close to the railings so I can grab them when I slip.

An old man who smells of weed stops me in the street to wish me a happy Christmas. He puts his hand on my shoulder and hums a short tune. “What’s that then?” I ask. “Music” he says, and he wanders off over the road.

At the house with the broken satellite dish and an empty Foster’s can in the garden, the front door has been graffitied with a marker pen: inside a wonky love heart it says, “I miss you Mum”.

Two young men in grey tracksuits and snapback baseball caps walk past drinking lager and listening to loud auto-tuned pop on mobile speakers with no bottom end.

Outside the Polish Corner restaurant in town, a chubby man in a tracksuit is pretending to buff-up his bald head while he takes a selfie. His friends can barely contain their mirth.

The woman on the bus recommends the Wills O’ Nats pub, “The staff really look after you”, she says. “Really nice food, really nice atmosphere. It was just nice to get home afterwards”.

At the shop.
Man at self-service checkout: This isn’t working, love. Must be manned by a woman.
Female shop assistant: You’ve put your card in upside down.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

As I exit the park gates, I hear a loud crunch

As I exit the park gates, I hear a loud crunch. I look up to see a green fluorescent cyclist bounce off the side of an Octavia taxi and onto the road. He gets to his feet quickly and holds out his hands in a ‘What the fuck?’ gesture to driver behind the wheel. “I’ve got a light,” he shouts, switching the light on his helmet off and on again, “I’ve got a fluorescent jacket,” he says, tugging at the collar of his hi-vis, “How come you didn’t see me?” The taxi driver doesn’t respond.

I follow the two Polish men in anoraks and combat pants down Fitzwilliam Street. The shorter of them is swigging Polish lager as they walk. When they reach the bottom of the hill, he throws his can into the bin and they stand conversing loudly for a minute or so before heading off in opposite directions.

The short tubby man in his late fifties with the raglan cardigan and combover tells me he accidentally went to Whitby during the goth weekender. “By ‘eck, we saw some right sights!” he explains, shaking his head. “They were selling steam punk starter kits for twenty quid: a pair of goggles and a hat with a feather in it. I have to admit I was tempted, but I didn’t bother in the end.”

A five-bar gate has been installed on new wooden posts a couple of meters back from the original stone ones. I open it and make my way up the dirt road past the old stone buildings whose roofs are bright green with moss.

A jay flies out from Southernwood.

The man in the red North Face jacket flicks the bottom of his crisp bag with his middle finger before tipping his head back and upending the dregs into his open mouth.

The tall poplars behind the new estate are capped yellow with the last of the leaves that still cling to the very top of the canopy. There are pink, lace-up Hunter wellingtons, Union Jack themed soft furnishings and a man in a gilet in his late fifties. “There’s always something to do,”  he tells me. “Last weekend I had to unblock the drain and this weekend, I had to build a shed. There’s always summat to do, in’t there? There’s always summit.”

Mr Briggs pulls up in his Suzuki Carry: “If you don’t see me tomorrow, hang on to my mail, will you? I’ve got a bloody funeral to go to.” And with that, he spins his wheels on the wet leaves in the gutter and speeds away towards Meltham — where it’s a right bugger to park, so he often tells me.

The bald man behind me on the bus says he doesn’t get why everyone is still bothered about iPhones: “I could understand it when they first came out and you could get an app that made a whipping sound or a noise like a fart; it was fun, but where do you go from there? I mean, what’s the point now?”

Friday, 13 October 2017

6 a.m.: It’s been a windy night.

6 a.m.: It’s been a windy night. There are leaves swirling around the fallen apples on the pavement. In the park, two young men are unable to resist the child’s scooter which has been abandoned against a litter bin. After a couple of failed attempts at bunny-hops, they lose interest and prop it back where they'd found it. They are in conversation as they walk up the path towards me: 
“The thing is, right, she’s said a few things recently that have made me feel a bit, hmm.”
“What? Like it’s kind of getting a bit more serious than you’d like?”

I follow the man in head-to-toe hi-vis who is smoking strong weed. He’s walking slower than I am and, as I catch him up, he emits a loud belch. When I overtake him and he realises that I’d have been within earshot, he clears his throat several times perhaps thinking I’d assume that what I’d taken to be a noisy eructation was just another attempt at clearing his passages.

the five-year-old plastic lawn at number twelve is really starting to fade now. It has bleached to quite a pale green and is now far more realistic than when it was installed.

The woman in the trouser suit whose long blonde hair is tied back in a black scrunchie is on the phone: “Hiya, can you do us a favour? Can you see if I’ve got a bag of Cheetos in the third drawer down?"

On the new estate, three boys are playing football in the road. A girl asks if she can join in, “Yes,” says the boy in the Chelsea kit, “You can pretend you’re watching us on the TV.”

The vicar has installed a lurid 3D picture of a blond haired Christ adjacent to the front door of the vicarage.

It’s a bit rough around here; the landlords have attached advertisements for boarding-up services to the front windows and, at the cash machine outside the post office, an elderly woman wearing Superman pyjamas is withdrawing a tenner.

In town, it’s gloomy, wet and windy. I move aside for the three drunks and their free-range bow-legged Staffy. They are owning the space like their lives depend on it—which they probably do. They gob on the floor and ostentatiously impart their observations on life: "She were a right big lass for a girl." 

Robbie Williams spews out over ‘The Piazza’ on the rubbish PA system: "I got too much life running through my veins” he sings with no bottom-end to all the old women as they hobble past Poundworld with their bags-for-life and their hoods up against the pissing horizontal rain.