6am, overcast, light rain.
In the park, the man smoking strong weed is walking his Akita past the temperance fountain. On, past joggers, ornamental lampposts, the shut up ice-cream pergola, the Boer war soldier, down the steep hill where the modern day discount Sisyphus struggles with his 10kg bag of potatoes; every day I’ve passed him here.
Further down, another young man is threatening to jump from the railway bridge on Church Street. The police are turning back the traffic and a woman is shouting.
Lunchtime now, and the jackdaws are pecking at the horse shit in Wakefield Road while a group of older men gather around the modular seating at the Hyundai showroom that smells of rubber.
Clouds clear, it’s 15° and big flies are basking on the white front doors of the terrace. I pass a man in canvas espadrilles and a wide brimmed straw hat down by the junction box with its doors open and wiring exposed. He’s talking to the young Sikh man who is sitting in his expensive black Mercedes with the roof down and his sunglasses on.
The council are mowing the lawn under the Pampas grass on Lawton Street and on the new estate the developer-planted cherry and viburnum are finally usurping the fake plastic topiary.
“…Betty, its telling me you’ve put the wrong pin number in, love. Will you take it out and try again? No, no, wait for me, Betty. That’s it. Okay, you can put your pin in now, Betty”
A heron flies the length of the road and the woman in the three-quarter length taupe anorak is imperious. She stares Britannia like into the distance as her terrier pisses on the cotoneaster next to the Vauxhall Vectra with the bulldog bumper sticker.
A chunky young man with a regulation hairstyle and a Burberry check coat walks with his head on one side into the Food & Wine shop. He noticeably grimaces as he picks up two cans of Skol Super. “Two pounds please, love” says the avuncular woman in the turtleneck behind the counter.
In the 1970s village populated by the grown up cast of a Children’s Film Foundation movie and Stig of the Dump, most people in the bungaloid extensions share surnames with kids I went to primary school with. The daffodils are out in the churchyard and the jackdaws are squabbling violently as a Radiophonic Workshop soundtrack plays in my head.
At the Frank Lloyd-Lite gated community on the hill where the dog walkers drive Mercedes vans, the cottage gardens are being torn up and replaced with Driveways of Distinction by young men who listen to hip-hop on site radios.