Monday 20 December 2010

I'm still having to step over last years dead Christmas tree...

I’m still having to step over last year’s dead Christmas tree to get to the letter- box at number 87 on the estate.

A woman with tight jeans and a furry hat with ear flaps mistakes me for a colleague who recently featured in The Daily Examiner for doing the shopping for some of his elderly customers during the cold spell. She tells me how much old Mr Mallinson appreciated me getting his fags for him.

I hand over a parcel to a man in his fifties with some keys on his belt. It’s obviously a Christmas present: “Bloody Hell! Someone’s got money to burn” he says. “I’m a miserable sod, aren’t I?” he adds before laughing and saying “Thank you, my man” three times in a West Midlands accent and then shutting the door.

Just past the interior designer’s house with the UPVC porch and the fake leaded lights in a stylised tulip pattern, about ten yards down from where he parks his white Astra with the body kit and the white circular cardboard air freshener which dangles from the rearview mirror and has the word ‘AIR’ cut out of it in Helvetica Bold, opposite the red brick inter-war semi called ‘UP ’EM HALL’ with the three-wheeled motorcycle on the drive, half buried in the pile of mucky snow across from the house with the six-foot-high inflatable Homer Simpson wearing a Santa hat, I discover I can find eternal peace of mind from just £28.00 per annum (according to the promo- tional leaflet about insuring memorial stones and headstones I find there).

Sunday 12 December 2010

On my way into work at 5.30am a young woman in a frock coat...

5.30am: A young woman in a frock coat shouts to me from across the street, “Postman Pat! My daughter hates you!”

“It’s like a bottle for you isn’t it lad? Mind how you go.” says the old man in the cardigan and the scarf when I almost lose my footing on an icy pavement.

I see Rod Singleton in a bobble hat, chipping ice from his driveway with a spade. He says the weathermen are talking out of their fucking arses when they tell us it’s going to get warmer next week.

“Normally he cleans that path; he’s a taxi driver. It’s shocking is that for his wife”, says the man who looks a bit like he’s from the 1970s when I slip over on his neighbour’s path.

“I’ve lived here for forty year and I’ve never seen a single person come down here with a bit of salt. It’s disgusting!” says the elderly man with the combover and the zip-up rib-knit raglan cardigan with suede elbow patches.

A woman in a big black coat rounds the corner and crashes her buggy into my ankles. She doesn’t say anything or even look up, she just reverses a bit and goes around me.

A tall, slim woman in her mid-forties with a dyed black bob, knee-length boots, and skinny jeans walks up Moor End Road past a large snow sculpture of a cock and some balls. Arms outstretched, face raised up towards the sky and eyes shut tight, she sings along loudly to Lady Gaga on her mp3 player.

Tuesday 7 December 2010

The man who shouts at the top of his voice at 05.30 in the morning...

The man who regularly shouts at the top of his voice from the flats at 5.30am was screaming instead this morning.

An unusual silver/grey fibreglass box has been left on Park Drive South. It’s about
a foot square and on the lid it says “This is it Martin” in black marker pen.

At the newsagent’s, a customer tells the Asian proprietress about some neighbours who’d made him a curry, “They had a two week holiday in Pakistan, or India, I can’t remember which, one or the other. Anyway, when they got back they invited me and the missus round for a curry and oh! It were bang-on! It really was superb!”

Outside, two school mums talk as they pick their way around the torn mattress, the divan bed base and the purple vest top in the icy puddle, “You’re walking like a mong” says one. “I know!” says the other “I need a wee desperately”.

A man with a leather jacket, blue tracksuit bottoms, black trainers, a bulbous nose, a grey moustache and a black baseball cap comes out of The Caledonian Café and belches loudly. The smell of liver and onions drifts along the bus queue.

A see a rat run across Heaton Road.

I saw my abusive neighbour again today, he was telling a learner driver to fuck off.

I need some waterproof socks.

Wednesday 1 December 2010

A woman with unseasonably sheer tights was feeding pigeons

A woman with unseasonably sheer tights feeds pigeons from a Jack Fulton Frozen Value carrier bag at 6am.

The woman at the bus stop says it’s “niptorious” today.

The three young people in front of me in a heavy snow shower are in conversation: “She’s dead young. They’d better make sure she doesn’t get fucking pregnant” says the thin white girl with the scraped back ponytail and skinny jeans. “I know!” says the Asian boy with the saggy jeans and quilted jacket. “I need a fucking car!” says the thin white girl. “I can get you one for £135. It’s all right, it’s got a nice CD player or I can sort you out a USB if you want.” says the Asian boy. “I don’t care as long as it goes, I’ve got to be in fucking town for half-one.” “It should be £200 but I’ll sort it for you for £135 if you definitely want it. Do you definitely want it?” “Of course I fucking do! I’ve got to be in fucking town, haven’t I?” “Okay”, says the Asian boy, “I’ll bring it you round later”. The third member of the group, the thin black girl with the cerise pink dressing gown and the Ugg boots doesn’t say anything, she just walks alongside with her arms folded.

I suggest to a woman who is clearing her path in the blizzard that it must be a bit like painting the Forth bridge. She says she doesn’t know.

A skinny Irishman in his fifties with a roll-up, a greasy ducktail and a disobedient sheltie sings as he passes me, “Postman, postman don’t be slow, be like Elvis, go man go!” then he stops, turns around, and asks, “Did you like that?”

A young man in a hooded top and an Alfa Romeo 147 struggles to get traction in the snow. Fortunately, two more young men in hooded tops come running over, “We’ll give you a push, you cunt!” and they do, right to the top of the hill. Next, a middle-aged woman in a fleece jacket and a Lodge’s Pharmacy van with ‘Celebrity Slim Weight Loss Programme/Program’* written on it comes around the corner at the bottom and also struggles to get up the hill. This time the two young men in hooded tops shout to the thin white girl with the skinny jeans and the thin black girl with the cerise pink dressing gown who have appeared at the bottom of the street, “You two can push her!” and they walk away.

*Both spellings featured in the livery of the van

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Someone has stolen the roof from Bradley Farm...

Someone has stolen the roof from Bradley Farm.

The sign above the door at MPC North Ltd says ‘mpc north: managing people’s choices’. The reception area is staffed by people in military fatigues with laptops on their knees.

At the park homes on the moor, a woman in an old fleece jacket with a picture of a wolf on it tells me I’m a good postman because she’s seen me pick up an elastic band I dropped. She tells me that my colleagues just leave them on her path. The wolf woman’s friend—salmon pink anorak, big set platinum hair and a plastic rain hood—says “Ignore her love, she’s like this,” and the wolf woman says, “No I’m not”.

At Mr Haigh’s, I have to step over a dead calf to get to his front door today.

An old Ford Ka pulls up next to me. In the front is a smartly dressed couple, he in a camel hair coat with suede collars and her with a tidy perm and a large beaded necklace. In the back is another man in a beige anorak. They are all in their seventies, maybe eighties. The driver winds down his window and shouts over in a southern accent, “It’s good to see a good healthy postman!” I kind of nod. The man goes on “I’ve got a man here...” He gestures over his shoulder at the man in the anorak. “... and I’m bringing him to see his childhood, er, all the good people!” I look at the anorak man in the back, he’s pulling faces at the driver like a petulant teenager and mock punching the back of his seat. “Bye bye!” says the driver, and he waves and drives away.

“A load of poofs live there”, the driver of the bin wagon says to me, pointing to number 20. All the bin men laugh and say “See you, mate” as they drive off.

Tuesday 16 November 2010

The man in front of me with the shaved head, the tracksuit bottoms and the shiny blouson jacket...

The man walking in front of me with the shaved head, tracksuit pants and the shiny blouson jacket stops to pick up a packet of sodden cigarettes from the gutter. He opens it but he can’t get at the contents because they’re all stuck together. He tears at the packet, peels away a wet cigarette from the cluster, puts it in his mouth and makes repeated attempts to light it.

A man with a splint on his wrist, wearing glasses and smoking a pipe says “It’s a nice spot round here”. Just around the corner, I see a massive red toadstool and I run over a squirrel. Ten minutes later another man who is wearing glasses and smoking a pipe (but without a splint on his wrist) says “How do?” and asks me for directions to Bradley Farm. A bit later I trip over the wellington boot belonging to the man who is practising the drums with the window open and Mrs Sykes says she’s glad it’s a nice day and that junk mail is a bit of a pain but she supposes it keeps me in work.

I see my first domestic Christmas tree of the year. It has plain white lights.

Friday 12 November 2010

On my way into work at 5.15am I saw two skinny men rolling a lorry wheel up Church Street...

On my way into work at 5.15am I see two skinny men rolling a lorry wheel up Church Street. They are soaking wet and panting loudly.

At the Toby Grill, a man in a blue fleece jacket and jeans rummages through the box of Remembrance Day poppies on the bar while the barmaid pulls him a pint of bitter. “Where are the pins? You need a pin in it”, he says. “They never came with any. I’m surprised we’ve got rid of so many” says the barmaid.

At the Grange, I lift the flap of the letterbox and half a dozen large black flies drop out into a stream of run-off that carries them struggling away down the driveway.

The man fitting metal window screens to a vacant house on Elmfield Avenue asks me whether I’d like to buy some trainers. I say no. 

I pass a large pair of Eurimco pumps discarded on a country lane.

The woman at number 36 tells me about her wealthy neighbour’s recent home improvements: “It’s unbelievable! He got an interearier [sic] designer in who is a gay from Leeds so it looks amazing!”

Two young men in their twenties talk on the bus: “Were you on Black Ops last night?” “No, I was going to but I had to go up to the shop to get a tin opener.”

Saturday 6 November 2010

"Have you got owt for me?" said the bald man with the the big jeans...

“Have you got owt for me?” says the bald man with the big jeans and the paintbrush in his hand. I hand him an envelope from the DVLA. “Car tax”, says the man. “Have a guess how much? Go on. I bet it’ll be £225.” “What kind of car have you got?” I ask. “A V70. I can’t be doing with small cars. What have you got?” “A little Skoda. It’s old” I say. “Crappy little things. No disrespect to you, I just can’t be doing with them.” “I’ve never bought a new car”, I say. “I’ve bought twenty-four. I’ve got two at the moment. The Volvo and a BMW. I need two because I’m going up to Scotland for a few days.” The man tears open the envelope and unfolds the letter. “£205. Not as bad as I thought! It’s a lot though, isn’t it? It adds up, it’s four quid a week that." He folds the letter back into the envelope and goes on, "I was self-employed for twenty-five year but I’ve passed all the work on to someone else, just walked away from it. Still got my name running around on fifteen vans mind.” He waves his paintbrush at his driveway, “just got a quote to get that re-surfaced: five and a half grand. Would you pay that?” “No”, I say. “No, but even if you had the money, would you?” “I suppose I might. I don’t know.” “I’m seventy year old. What’s the point? I’d only be doing it for someone else, wouldn’t I?” The man looks up at the window frame he’s painting and says “Anyway, you’d better let me get on. See you lad”.

The young couple with the tattoos and the toddler at number 201 have fastened a VW badge to their front door.

A skinhead in combat fatigues who is smoking weed asks me for directions to his own house.

Tuesday 2 November 2010

An old man was cleaning egg from his front door...

An old man is cleaning egg from his front door. He tells me that some vandals threw it at the house on Halloween. He says he’d like to pin them down by the throat with the handle of his broom and stamp on it.

At a house on Sycamore Close, the bald man wearing motorcycle leathers and a Bluetooth earpiece says “Hold on John”, and makes a “Do I need to sign for it?” sign by pretending to write in the air in front of his face with an imaginary pen. I make a sign for “No” by shaking my head and I hand over his package. The man gives me an emphatic thumbs up and continues with his Bluetooth conversation with John, “...the thing is mate...”

The old lady whose light blue fine knit cardigan exactly matches the colour of both her garage door and her meter housing box is very pleased with her parcel of garden bulbs, she says it’s “just the right size”.

Twice in succession during my parcel delivery, the door is answered by a middle-aged woman with a broken arm.

The German shepherd at the bottom of the street seems particularly keen to get at me today. It’s on its hind legs at the gate barking and snarling. The fur on its back is on end and it doesn’t take its eyes off me as I deliver the mail to the neighbouring houses. As I approach, it becomes apoplectic, barking furiously. A thin woman with a blonde perm and skinny jeans opens the door of the house, runs up to the dog and grabs it by the collar. She pulls it down from the gate but it struggles loose and leaps back up to continue its frenzied display. The woman makes a second attempt to 
grab the dog and this time she manages to keep ahold long enough for me to pass over her mail. “Thank you!” she shouts in a strong eastern European accent, “She is very friendly dog!”

As I queue in the Co-op to buy a new jar of peanut butter and some Mini Cheddars, the woman on the till shouts to a colleague, “Lisa, would you class this as quiet?” Lisa breaks off from her customer and briefly glances around the shop, “Umm, yeah, I reckon”. My till woman shouts back to Lisa, “Good, I need a wee”.

I see another headless pigeon. This one is on Yew Tree Road near the junction with Weatherill Road.

Monday 25 October 2010

As I drove up Station Road I saw a colleague on his delivery...

As I drive up Crosland Road I see a colleague being attacked by a fat black Labrador with a fluorescent green collar. He manages to protect himself with his mail pouch before kicking the dog in the head. The dog runs off and my colleague gives me the thumbs up as I pass.
At the army surplus shop, a customer asks the proprietor whether he has a hat like Michelle wore in ‘Allo ‘Allo. The proprietor says he hasn’t.

As I make my way up the front path of a house in Greenwood Street, the door opens and a large aggressive looking German shepherd runs out of it towards me. Fortunately, the dog is attached by a length of blue rope to its owner, a man in his fifties in a torn anorak. The man
is dragged down his steps and several feet up the path towards me before he regains his footing and restrains the dog. “Don’t worry”, he says, “He doesn’t bite as a rule, It’s your bag. He doesn’t like postmen or people with bags”. The dog barks and snarls and pulls the man another foot or so up the path. “When I take him down on the field I have to have a good look around to make sure there’s no one about with a bag otherwise he’ll think it’s the postman and he’ll have them.” “Oh”, I say. “Yeah, it’s just bags and postmen. Funny, isn’t it?”

As I round the corner into Lawton Street, a young boy of about eight or nine speeds off down the hill on a BMX. Two other boys jump up and down excitedly. One of them points after the BMX boy and shouts to me, “He’s shit his pants! His bum is wet!”

11.30am: A large woman in pyjamas comes out of the shop holding a packet of Lambert and Butler cigarettes and a copy of The Sun. She’s having a conver- sation via speaker-phone. She holds her phone in front of her face while she shouts into it in a southern accent: “... and then she says ‘Fuck you! It’s over! Now fuck off!’ You gotta love her, haven’t you? Anyway, don’t forget your key... Love you loads and loads... Byee!”
Half-an-hour later, I see the woman again. She’s smoking one of her Lambert and Butlers in the garden at number 17 with two other women in pyjamas.

I watch an aggressive stand-off develop between two young men. It begins
with the usual cursing and swearing but escalates into something quite unusual, ending thus: “You’re a fucking moo cow!” “You fucking moo cow!” “MOOOO COOOW!” “You’re a moo cow!” “MOOOOOOO COOOOOOOW!” “You’re 
a moo cow!” With that, one of the men chases the other up the road and into a house, slamming the door behind him.

I knock at the door of a house on the estate. I hear the back door open and a Border terrier runs around the corner, squats at my feet and starts pissing. I step away as the dog’s owner comes out saying, “Don’t worry love, she’ll not bother you”.

Thursday 21 October 2010

On my way into work I saw a bat, an owl, the short woman with the sweat shirt...

On my way into work, I see a bat, an owl, the short woman with the sweat- shirt and the peroxide perm who goes through the bins in the park and, on the pavement outside the Mortgage Introducer and International Flights shop on John William Street, a women’s block heeled boot.

At the house with the broken porch, a boy of about three or four is sitting on the window sill wearing nothing but a nappy and drinking milk from a baby bottle. I knock at the door and a thin woman in her forties with braces on her teeth flings it open and shouts “Toilet!” before adding, “Oh sorry love, I thought you were someone else”.

Mr Briggs intercepts me in his Suzuki Carry. He asks whether I’ve ever toured Scotland by coach. I say I haven’t. He tells me his wife saw an advert in The Examiner: “Up one side and down the other. Five hotels in a week!” Mr Briggs goes on at some length about his reservations about coach travel. “A sore arse... compulsory seat belts... steamed-up windows that you can’t see out of... the lack of decent toilet facilities... If you get sat next to a knobhead...” and so forth. “I said all this to her”, he explains, “but she’d already gone and booked it, hadn’t she? Her and Barbara had cooked it up together, hadn’t they? So the four of us went together: me, the missus and Gary and Barbara. And do you know what?” says Mr Briggs looking up at me from over his wire rims. “What?” I say. “We had a real time! It were fantastic! We’ve been another, one, two, three, four times since!” He tells me about some of the exploits they’ve had: “They’re only allowed to drive for a couple of hours at a time these days so we always have t’chance to have a coffee or a tea”. And how he’d got around the “seat belt problem”. “If you plug the belt into the thing before you get into your seat and then just sit on it, the driver’s alarm doesn’t go off. He’d had to tell me a couple of times over the tannoy before I figured that out.” Mr Briggs chuckles and does an impression of the bus driver, “Passenger number forty-four, could you fasten your belt please!” I tell Mr Briggs that I once travelled from London to Paris by coach and I found it quite tough going. I start to elaborate with an amusing anecdote from the journey but he cuts me short saying, “Anyway, I’m off to Leeds now” and he drives away".

Tuesday 12 October 2010

A man is lying on his side on his asphalt driveway...

A man is lying on his side on his asphalt driveway manicuring the edge of his lawn with a pair of shears. Half his backside is showing. He rolls over onto his back to say hello.
Leylandii, berberis, box hedge and open-plan lawns. Stone built bungalows with feature arches and patio-doors, swirly carpets and telephone tables. Staffordshire ladies on the window sills. “Did you hear about the burglary two doors down? They’re on holiday. They didn’t draw their curtains, didn’t set their alarm. What did they expect?”

Rockery islands and miniature conifers. Limestone and alpines.

Locks on doors, locks on windows, locks on cars, locks on bikes, locks on sheds, locks on greenhouses, locks on gates... 

Two cars on the drive and nobody home.

Women walk the streets in fleeces and overactive Reactolites. Pulling on North Faces as it starts to drizzle. Swinging little bags of dog shit as they stride on towards Strawberry Drive in spotted Barbour wellingtons. Dragging a growling, clipped schnauzer as it tries to hold its ground. “Why are you like this with the postman? He’s usually so placid and lovely, aren’t you?” she says, without looking up.

In the week, it’s older, retired men with tucked-in shirts and side partings. They lie down underneath Range Rovers or fine-tune their lawns. They say “What’s she been ordering now?” about “the missus” who sometimes comes outside in her specs and unusually coloured hair. “Have you seen the postman?” she says as she sets down a tall glass and a
Hobnob. At the weekends it’s younger men who stand on their lawns in casual sportswear holding power tools. They say “All right mate?” while ‘the missus’, in her navy-blue polo shirt with the buttons undone, holds a spaniel by the collar. There are one or two children but they are at nursery except on Saturday when one of them gets strapped into the seat of his grandad’s Ford Focus and taken to the United game. His grandma waves him off, she already has her pinny on.

Saturday 9 October 2010

I could see a small man walking towards me in the park...

5.30am: A man is walking towards me in the park. He’s singing loudly to himself and occasionally performing a kind of shimmy. He stops to take a long drag on his cigarette, briefly looks up and notices me coming down the path. At this point, he begins to cough in what seems like a fake way and when he starts walking again, he does so with a pronounced swagger and an expressionless face.

Trizzle and N. Smith have both written their names on the May Street pouch box.

On the estate, I knock at a house to deliver a registered parcel. A man answers. He’s carrying a little boy in a duffle coat, mittens and a woollen hat, “Oh thanks, mate, that’s great, I’ve been waiting for that. Excellent!” He puts down the little boy to sign for the package and a slim women in a vest top peers around the door. Her eyes widen, “Is that your new phone? Fucking hell you jammy cunt! Mine took fucking ages. Fucking hell!”

According to the large A1 laminated poster entitled ‘The Toby Grill Hall Of Fame’, Mick has served 994 drinks and Kerry over 400 meals so far this week.

A man who looks a bit like Tony Hancock stops me in Kirkwood Drive to ask whether I know why there is so much bird muck on the roofs of the bungalows there.

Sunday 3 October 2010

A young man wearing a yellow vest, faded red boxer shorts and fluffy yellow slippers...

A young man wearing a yellow vest, faded red boxer shorts and fluffy yellow slippers is sitting on my neighbour’s front step in the rain at 5.30am.

I see a fox on Station Road.

On the bus, I overhear a man telling his companion that he shat himself in bed after drinking too many Turbo Diesels in the pub.

Mrs Shaw gives me a bag of homegrown tomatoes. She says she’s completely self-sufficient as far as tomatoes are concerned.

Dr Groves opens his front door to take his mail. “It’s a reasonable day by the looks of it”, he says.

Mr Briggs pulls up to tell me he’s off to Oldham today. He pauses, then says “Actually, I tell a lie, I’m off to the office, then to Meltham and then to Oldham. I’m working on the precinct there, it’s a right bastard to park”. That’s all he says, then he gets back into his Suzuki Carry and drives away.

At the Chartered Accountants’, a chubby white male chartered accountant with brown plastic-rimmed glasses, a white shirt and a grey suit is talking to a slim white female chartered accountant in a white shirt and a slightly lighter grey suit. “Did you get through Chapeltown all right yesterday?” asks the man. “I know! I didn’t see a single white face!” says the woman biting her lip. “I bet you didn’t want to stop at the lights did you?” “No”, says the woman, “I pushed my door locks down!” She mimes twisting around and pushing down the door lock. “Absolutely terrifying”, she says. 

Mrs Gaunt waves to me from her first floor window with a tenon saw in her hand.

Places I’ve seen the Cross of St George today: 1. Painted across the bonnet
of a white baker’s van. 2. On a flag flying from a dead tree in a garden on Manse Drive. 3. On a flag flying from the Foresters Arms pub. 4. Painted on a drain cover by the back door of a house in Cowlersley. 5. On a flag flying from what used to be The Green Cross real ale pub but is now a Sex Encounter Club with blacked out windows and plans for a sauna.

Thursday 23 September 2010

The man with the tartan Thermos, the pea-coat and the all-year-round woolly hat...

The man with the tartan Thermos, the pea-coat and the all-year-round woolly hat has started crossing the road when he sees me. We pass each other at 6am every morning and he’s often the only other person I see as I walk into work. After a few weeks of ignoring each other, I let on and said “Morning”. He didn’t reply. As time went by and I persisted, he started to respond but never seemed very comfortable with it. His eyes would start flickering nervously at me from about twenty yards away, I’d say “Morning” and he’d emit an awkward choking sound accompanied by a twitchy sideways glance. Now he crosses the road and keeps his eyes fixed on the pavement.

A man in a hooded North Face jacket, elaborately top-stitched jeans and Nike trainers is smoking a cigarette and fiddling with a Blackberry on the steps at the entrance to the flats. I say hello as I approach, assuming he’ll move across so I can get past. He doesn’t. He doesn’t respond or even glance up. I squeeze through, my bag scraping against
his knee, but he still doesn’t move or acknowledge my presence in any way. When I come out of the flats ten minutes later, the man is still there, smoking another cigarette and thumbing his Blackberry. I say hello again, he looks up, squints, pulls on his cigarette and looks down again.

Two overweight men in their thirties are talking as they walk past me on Ings Way, “I bet I fucking could”, says one. “I bet you fucking couldn’t”, says the other. “I bet I fucking could.” “You fucking couldn’t.” “I fucking could.” “You fucking couldn’t.” “I bet I fucking could...”
A woman in flat shoes and a very full skirt stops me in the street to tell me she’s been to the ninetieth birthday party of her pianist, “I’m in the choir at the Methodist. The cake was in the shape of a grand piano. It was sponge but it was lovely and moist”.

Sunday 12 September 2010

While I was opening the pouch box on Heatherfield Road...

While I’m opening the pouch box on Heatherfield Road, an old man at the bus stop comments on my bunch of keys, “You’ve plenty of keys there”, he says.

As I’m posting the mail at the Baptist church a young man in a hooded top starts shouting something to me from the other side of the street. I can’t hear him above the noise of the traffic so he shouts again. I still can’t hear so he shouts a third time. And a fourth. I still can’t hear, so he shouts again. I still can’t hear. I go to the very edge of my pavement and he goes to his. He shouts at the top of his voice over the top of the traffic “HE ONLY GETS HOLY MAIL YOU KNOW!” “OH!” I shout back.

Inside the council flats, the window cleaner is talking to an elderly woman. She tells him she’s not been well. “I’ve been here, there and everywhere at the hospital and they can’t fathom what it is.” “Oh dear, there’s always summat in’t there?” says the window cleaner. The woman continues, “Now they’re reckoning it might be Parkinson’s disease so I’m going to have to go for tests for that now too”. “Oh dear, there’s always summat in’t there?”
says the window cleaner again. “Oh, but it is painful in my hands.” “There’s always summat in’t there?” “I can’t even do the washing it’s so painful.” “There’s always summat.” “But I always like to say to myself ‘There’s always someone worse off, isn’t there?’” “Oh dear, there’s always summat in’t there. See you next time love.” The window cleaner leaves the building and shoutsup to his colleague who is cleaning windows on the first floor, “Jesus-God- Alive! I feel like slitting my wrists when I’ve gone in there! It’s your turn next time!”

Thursday 9 September 2010

“Oh Septimus! Oh dear! I told you to go before we came out! Oh dear”

“Oh, Septimus! Oh dear! I told you to go before we came out! Oh dear”, says the woman in the twin set and obvious wig to her King Charles spaniel.

Howard says he shot a rat at 6.30 this morning. He says he’s pleased to have got the bugger at last but his neighbours complained about the noise. At Slack Farm, Mr Haigh comes out of the milking shed carrying a coat at arm’s length. The lining is torn out and It’s completely covered in shit and straw. “Fucking cows have had us coat. They’re a set of bastards” he says. “Eurgh! That’s had it now, hasn’t it?” I say. “Aye, normal folk would chuck it away. I’m gonna wash it.” I follow him up to his front door with his mail, past the tractor with the mature ragwort growing out from under the seat and the neat row of four dead moles laid out on the garden wall. Mr Haigh tells me that moles have a very keen sense of smell and hands like people. “If you smell of fags or booze when you lay the traps you’ll not catch any.”

At the Community Health Centre, the receptionist bursts out through the doors into the car park and vomits next to a Honda Civic.

Back at the office, I see Irfan. He’s been off work for a couple of weeks and when I ask why he tells me he’s been stabbed.

Monday 6 September 2010

In her garden on Meadow Way, an old woman in a dressing gown...

In her garden on Hart Street, an old woman in a dressing gown empties a jug of custard onto her borders.

A young man with his hand down the front of his trousers and a bloody nose is talking to a man in a snapback cap, “Drop them two off,” he says, gesturing to two young women with low cut tops and large breasts in the back of a P-reg’ VW Golf, “then we’ll go into town and get wired”.

Later, in the park, I see another man with a bloody nose. He’s talking to a tree.
A squirrel carries a Wagon Wheel (the chocolate kind) across Wren Street.

Thursday 26 August 2010

I found this note on the street on the way into work...

I find a note in the street on my way into work. It’s written in marker pen on a sheet of A4 paper. It’s the third I’ve found bearing this message in the last six months: ‘Iranian intelligence officers lick English Arse’.

Bob is back at work after a week off. I ask whether he’s had a good time and he tells me his dog ate his Yorkshire pudding in a café in Grassington.

Twice today, I’ve been asked for directions to the Spiritualist church.

At County Foods, I hand my paperwork to the receptionist and she fills in her signature while talking on the phone, “I’ve got this guy on hold, he’s ringing from a café in Batley. He’s on about black puddings...” Suddenly, a large dog jumps up from behind the desk
and starts barking at me, its front paws on the sill of the service hatch. The receptionist puts down the phone and drags the dog back down by its collar. A tall man in a suit leans in through an adjoining door and gives her a quizzical look. “Don’t ask”, she says. “Is it a guard dog?” says the tall man. “It’s guarding me from the likes of you, Alan” says the receptionist.

The chubby assistant with the heavy foundation and the glittery bits on her face at the newsagent’s tells her colleague about her unfaithful boyfriend. “He said she looked better
from a distance than close to but he still knobbed her, didn’t he? He’s got a picture of it on his phone!”

Friday 13 August 2010

At the newsagent's, Christine was on the till...

At the newsagent’s, Christine is on the till. She nods at the pile of Examiners on the counter and says “There’s a new murder every day, isn’t there? It’s like a new craze or something”. “A craze?" I say. “Yeh, you know, like a new craze from America. Like skateboarding.” “Yes”, I say. “Do you remember that craze for blokes hanging themselves not so long back?” says Christine. “No?” “Yes, a bit back, about six months, a year back. Between me and my ex-husband, we knew half a dozen blokes who hung themselves in the space of about three months.” “Seriously?” “Two of them were on our paper-rounds” says Christine. “Blimey! I wonder what brought that on?” “I don’t know. Do you remember him who built our steps? He was one, hung himself.” “Really? That’s terrible” I say. “I know, and the thing is everyone’s always going on about them steps; the top one’s too short. People are always tripping over it and then they come in here and say ‘Whoever did them steps wants shooting!’ What am I supposed to say to that now?”

Tuesday 10 August 2010

5.30am. A man with a baby in a pram was rapping hard on the shutters of the newsagent's...

5.30am. A man with a baby in a pram was rapping hard on the shutters of the newsagent's shop. A hundred yards further down the road I passed a drunk goth eating a bag of Skips.

Later on, I saw a woman with a pot on her leg walking up South Lane. She said she wasn't going to the hairdressers now because they were going to squeeze her in on Tuesday instead. She said she was off up to Julie's because she's got a seat outside.

D-MON K!D, $L!T K!D and EV!L BO¥ have all written their names on the pouch box at Winchester Bank.

A man with two black eyes was walking up Manchester Road.

I found a dead prawn in the footwell of my van.

Thursday 5 August 2010

Vincent, my neighbour, caught me as I was leaving for work...

Vincent, my neighbour, catches me as I leave for work, “Er, Kevin, I’ve got something to show you”. He dashes inside, wiping his hands on his pinny as he goes. When he returns he stands on his step, hiding something behind his back. “Do you cook a lot of chicken?” he asks. “Not really, occasionally”, I say. “Well, I’ve got just the thing”, he says and, with a slight flourish, he produces one of those shallow tin trays that chickens come in when you buy them from a supermarket. “Marks and Spencer”, he says, “It came free with the chicken”. “Thanks”, I say.

The pillar box outside the post office is jammed full of junk mail and takeaway flyers with obscenities scrawled all over them in blue biro. Someone has also tried to set fire to them by feeding matches through the slot. I mention it to the woman who works behind the counter, “I know! I caught her doing it”, she says, “it was Mrs Armitage from Whiteley Street”.

A young man in a tracksuit is cutting his own hair with a pair of blue plastic handled scissors as he walks down Cross Lane. He has no mirror and is feeling the hair at his temples with his left hand as he snips with his right.

On the landing, Irfan says the yardies had been threatening him again so during
a quiet spell he nips over the road to the gun shop to buy a bulletproof vest. He returns without one, “They’re four hundred quid so I didn’t bother”.

Tuesday 3 August 2010

I could see a figure lying face down on the pavement...

06.30am: I can see a figure lying face down on the pavement up ahead. I get a bit closer and I see his right arm move. He rolls briefly onto his side and back onto his front, where he lies still again. He’s wearing new, clean clothes: plaid shirt, dark blue denim jeans and expensive looking trainers. As I pass, I ask whether he’s okay. He rolls onto his side again. He’s young, mid-twenties, dark curly hair. “I’m just bored”, he says. “Oh, as long as your okay” I say. “Have you got a spare cig’?” “No.” “Okay”, and he rolls back onto his front.

I carry on up the road and into the park where a man of about sixty years old, Adidas trainers and shorts, is picking up the dog shit left by his border terrier and putting it into a little plastic bag.