Monday, 20 December 2010

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

Castle Hill ll from Kevin Boniface on Vimeo.

I'm still having to step over last year's dead Christmas tree to get to the letter box at 87 Granby Park.

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

I handed over a parcel to a man in his fifties with some keys on his belt. It was obviously a Christmas present and so he said "Bloody Hell! Someone's got money to burn... I'm a miserable sod aren't I?" He laughed hysterically and then said "Thank you my man" to me three times in an west midlands accent and shut 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 rear view mirror and has the word "air" die-cut out of it in helvetica bold, opposite the red brick inter-war semi called "UP EM HALL" with the 3-wheeler 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 discovered I could find eternal peace of mind—from just £28.00 per annum*

*According to the promotional leaflet about insuring memorial stones and headstones I found there.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

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

Kirkburton from Kevin Boniface on Vimeo.
On my way into work at 5.30am, a young woman in a frock coat shouted to me from across the street, “Postman Pat! My daughter hates you!”

When I nearly lost my footing on an icy pavement, the old man in the cardigan and the scarf said “It’s like a bottle for you, isn’t it lad? Mind how you go.”

I was on her doorstep when a woman came round the corner and said hello. She startled me and I jumped. “You’re like me with your nerves” she said.

I saw 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.

When I slipped on the path of his neighbour’s house, a man who looked a bit like he was from the 1970s told me “Normally he cleans his path; he’s a taxi driver. It’s shocking is that for his wife.”

At a house on Tunnel Road, an elderly man with a florid combover and one of those zip-up, rib-knit raglan cardigans with the suede elbow patches said, “I’ve lived here for forty year and never seen a single person come down here with a bit of salt. It’s disgusting!”

I was stood emptying a post box when a woman in a big black coat came round the corner and crashed her buggy into my ankles. She didn’t say anything or even look up, she just reversed a bit and went round me.

A tall, slim woman in her mid-forties with a dyed black bob, knee length boots, and skinny jeans was walking up Parkway past a large snow sculpture of a cock and some balls. Arms outstretched, face raised up towards the sky and eyes shut tight, she sang along 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...

Untitled from Kevin Boniface on Vimeo.

The man who shouts at the top of his voice at 05.30 in the morning from the Dale Street flats was screaming instead this morning.

An unusual silver/grey fibreglass box has been left on Park Road. 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 was telling 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 – and 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 were talking as they picked 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” said one. “I know!" said 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 came out of The Caledonian Café and belched loudly. It smelt strongly of liver and onions.

A saw a rat run across Heaton Road.

The Skip Hire man always says "morning lad" to me but I'm pretty sure I'm older than he is.

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

Gulls in snow from Kevin Boniface on Vimeo.

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

I passed a woman in the street who said it was "niptorious" today.

The three people walking in front of me in a heavy snow shower were in conversation:
The thin white girl with the scraped back pony tail and skinny jeans said "She's dead young. They'd better make sure she doesn't get fucking pregnant".
The other two said "I know!"
After a bit, the thin white girl suddenly said "I need a fucking car!"
The asian boy with the saggy jeans and the quilted jacket said "I can get you one for £135. It's alright; it's got a nice CD player... I can sort you out a USB if you want."
The thin white girl said "I don't care as long as it goes, I've got to be in fucking town for half-one"
The asian boy said "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!"
"Ok" said the asian boy "I'll bring it you round later".
The thin black girl with the cerise pink dressing gown and the Ugg boots didn't say anything, she just walked along with her arms folded.

I suggested to a woman who was clearing her path in a blizzard that it must be a bit like painting the Forth bridge. She said she didn't know.

A skinny Irishman in his fifties with a roll-up, a greasy ducktail and a disobedient sheltie sang out to me as he walked past, "Postman, postman don't be slow, be like Elvis, go man go!" When he'd finished, he asked me whether I'd liked it and I said I had.

A young man in a hooded top and an Alfa Romeo 147 was struggling to get any traction in the snow on Mill Street. Fortunately two more young men in hooded tops came running over shouting "We'll give you a push, you cunt!" and they did, right to the top of the hill.
Just then, a middle aged woman in a fleece jacket and a Lodge's Pharmacy van with Celebrity Slim Weight Loss Programme written on it came around the corner at the bottom of Mill Street and also started to struggle up the hill. This time the two young men in hooded tops shouted to the thin white girl with the skinny jeans and the thin black girl with the cerise pink dressing gown who had appeared at the bottom of the street, "You two can push her!" and they walked away.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Someone has stolen the roof from Bradley Farm...

Beaumont Park from Kevin Boniface on Vimeo.

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 static homes, a woman in an old fleece jacket with a wolf on it told me I was a good postman because she’d seen me pick up an elastic band I’d dropped. She told 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—told me “Ignore her love, she’s like this” and the wolf woman said “No I’m not”.

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

An old Ford Ka pulled up next to me. In the front was a smartly dressed couple, he in a camel hair coat with suede collars and her with a tidy perm and large beads. In the back was another man in a beige anorak. They were all in their 70s—maybe 80s. The camel hair man driver wound down his window and spoke in a southern accent “it’s good to see a good healthy postman!”

I kind of nodded.

The man went on “I’ve got a man here...”

He gestured over his shoulder at the man in the anorak

“... and I’m bringing him to see his childhood... er... all the good people!”

I looked at the anorak man in the back; he was pulling faces at the camel hair man like a petulant teenager and mock punching the back of the driver’s seat.

“Bye bye!” said camel hair man, and they drove away.

“A load of poofs live there” the driver of the bin wagon said to me, pointing over to number 20. All the bin men laughed and said “see you mate” as they drove away.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

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

The man in front of me with the shaved head, the tracksuit bottoms and the shiny blouson jacket stopped to pick up a packet of sodden cigarettes from the gutter. He opened it and tried to get at the contents but they were all stuck together. As I passed him, he was tearing open the packet. I watched him making repeated attempts to light one of the cigarettes as I waited to cross the road.

Out on delivery, a man with a splint on his wrist, wearing glasses and smoking a pipe said "It's a nice spot round here."
Just around the corner I saw a massive red toadstool and I ran over a squirrel.
Ten minutes later another man who was wearing glasses and smoking a pipe (but without a splint on his wrist) said "How do'" and asked me for directions to Bradley farm.
Just around the corner I tripped over a wellington boot belonging to a man who was practising the drums with the window open and Mrs Sykes said she was glad it was a nice day and that junk mail is a bit of a pain but she supposes it keeps me in work.

I saw my first domestic Christmas tree of the year at 17a Moor Lane. It had 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...

Horses from Kevin Boniface on Vimeo.

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

At the Toby Grill a man in a blue fleece jacket and jeans was rummaging through the box of Remembrance Day poppies on the bar while the barmaid pulled him a pint of bitter.

“Where are the pins? You need a pin in it” he said.

“They never came with any; I’m surprised we've got rid of so many” said the barmaid.

At Wood Grange, I lifted the flap of the letter box and half a dozen large black flies dropped out into a stream of run-off that carried them struggling away down the driveway.

A man who was fitting metal window screens to a vacant house on Eastfield Avenue asked me whether I’d like to buy some trainers.

Later, I saw a large pair of Eurimco pumps discarded on a country lane.

The woman at no.36 told 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 were talking 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?" said the bald man with the the big jeans and the paintbrush in his hand.
I handed him an envelope from the DVLA.
"Car tax." said the man. "Have a guess how much. Go on—I bet it'll be £225."
"What kind of car have you got?" I said.
"A V70. I can't be doing with small cars. What have you got?"
"A little Skoda. It's old" I said.
"Crappy little things. No disrespect to you; I just can't be doing with them."
"I've never bought a new car" I said.
"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 tore open the envelope and unfolded 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... I were 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.
The man waved 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 said.
"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 looked up at the window frame he was painting and said "Anyway, you'd better let me get on. See you lad."

The young couple with the tattoos and the toddler at no. 201 have fastened a VW badge to their front door.

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

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

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

Lockwood ll from Kevin Boniface on Vimeo.

An old man was cleaning egg from his front door. He told me some vandals had thrown it at the house on Halloween. He said he’d like to pin them down by the throat with the handle of his brush and stamp on it.
At a house on Yew Tree Avenue, a bald man of about sixty wearing motorcycle leathers and a bluetooth ear-piece said “Hold on John” and made 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 made a sign for “no” by shaking my head from side to side and handed over the parcel. The man gave me an emphatic thumbs up and carried on his bluetooth conversation with John, “...the thing is mate...”

An old lady whose light blue fine knit cardigan exactly matched the colour of both her garage door and her meter housing box was very pleased with her parcel of garden bulbs, she said it was “just the right size”.

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

The German Shepherd in the garden at 62 Mill Street seemed keen to get at me. It was stood on its hind legs at the gate barking and growling incessantly. The fur on its back was on end and it didn’t take its eyes off me as I delivered to the neighbouring houses. Eventually, I had to attempt to deliver some mail to the dog’s house. As I approached, it became apoplectic, furiously barking and baring its teeth with rage. A thin woman with a blonde perm and skinny jeans opened the door of the house, ran up to the dog and grabbed it by the collar. She pulled it down from the gate but it struggled loose and leapt back up, bristling furiously in a distorted frenzy of ill-intent. The woman made a second attempt to grab the dog, this time she managed to keep hold long enough for me to pass her her mail. “Thank you!” she said, in an eastern european accent, then she added “She is very friendly dog”.

There was a rusty framed photograph of a baby in the garden at 36 Mill Street.

I was queueing in the Co-op to buy a new jar of peanut butter and some Mini Chedders when the woman on the till shouted to a colleague: “Lisa, would you class this as quiet?” Lisa broke off from her customer and briefly glanced around the shop, “Umm... yeah, I reckon”. My till lady shouted back to Lisa “Ooh good, I need a wee”.

I saw another headless pigeon corpse. This one was on Yews Tree Avenue near the junction with Moor End Crescent.

Monday, 25 October 2010

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

Ginnel from Kevin Boniface on Vimeo.
As I drove up Station Road I saw a colleague on his delivery. A fat black labrador with a fluorescent green collar was attacking him. My colleague managed to protect himself with his mail pouch before kicking the dog in the head. The dog ran off and my colleague gave me the thumbs up as I passed.

At the army surplus shop, a customer was asking the proprietor whether he had “a hat like Michelle wore in ‘Allo ‘Allo”. The proprietor said he hadn’t.

I was walking up the front path of a house on Orchard Street when the door opened and a large black German Shepherd shot out of it. Fortunately, the dog was attached to its owner by a length of blue rope. The man was dragged down his steps and several feet up the path towards me before he regained his footing and restrained the dog. 
“Don’t worry” he said, “He doesn’t bite as a rule, It’s your bag. He doesn’t like postmen or people with bags”. 
The dog began barking and pulled the man another foot or so up the path. 
“When I take him down on the field I have to have a good look round to make sure there’s no one with a bag about otherwise he’ll think it’s the postman and he’ll have them”.
“Oh” I said.
“Yeah, it’s just bags... and postmen. Funny isn’t it?”

As I rounded the corner into Mill Street, a young boy of about eight or nine sped off down the hill on a BMX. Two other boys were jumping up and down excitedly. One of them pointed after the BMX boy and shouted to me “He’s shit his pants! His bum is wet!”

11.30am: A large woman in pyjamas came out of the shop holding a packet of Lambert and Butler and a copy of The Sun newspaper. She had her mobile on speaker-phone and was holding it in front of her face while she shouted 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 saw the woman again; she was stood smoking in the garden of no.17 with two other large women in pyjamas.

I watched an aggressive stand-off develop between two young men. It began with standard swearing but soon became quite unusual, ending thus:
“You’re a fucking moo cow!”
“You fucking moo cow!”
“Moooo cooow!”
“You’re a moo cow!”
“Mooooooooo cooooooooow!”
“You’re a moo cow!”
Eventually the first man chased the other up the road and into a house.

I knocked at the door of a house. I heard the back door open and a dog ran around the corner, squatted at my feet and started pissing. I stepped away as the dog’s owner came 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...

Tunnel 2 from Kevin Boniface on Vimeo.

On my way into work I saw 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 Marsh Street, a women’s block heeled boot.

I knocked at a house on West Moor Road. A boy of about three or four wearing nothing but a nappy was sitting on the window sill drinking milk from a baby bottle. A thin woman in her forties with braces on her teeth answered the door and shouted “Toilet!” at me. Then she said “Oh sorry love, I thought you were someone else”.

Mr Briggs intercepted me for his mail in his Bedford Rascal. He asked me whether I’d ever toured Scotland by coach. I said I hadn’t. He told me his wife had seen an advert in The Examiner; “...up one side and down the other—five hotels in a week.”

Mr Briggs went 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.

He said "I said all this to her 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?" said Mr Briggs looking up at me from over his wire-rims.

“What?” I said.

“We had a real time! It was fantastic! We’ve been another... one... two... three... four times since!”

He went on at some length about some of the exploits they’d had.

“...They’re only allowed to drive for a couple of hours at a time these days so we always have chance to have a coffee or a tea.”

And how he’d got around the seat belt problem.

“if you plug the belt in to 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 chuckled and did an impression of the bus driver “Passenger number 44 could you fasten your belt please”.

I told Mr Briggs that I’d once travelled from London to Paris by coach and I’d found it quite tough going. I was about to elaborate with an amusing anecdote from the journey but he cut me short saying “Anyway, I’m off to Leeds now” and he drove away.

A little girl with a snotty nose and a cotty afro asked me whether I was the postman. I said I was and she said “Why?” I said I didn’t know.

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 spotty 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 old 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...

Branch Street from Kevin Boniface on Vimeo.

I could see a small man walking towards me in the park. He was singing loudly to himself and occasionally performing a kind of shimmy. He stopped briefly to take a drag of his cigarette and saw me walking towards him. He began coughing in what seemed like a fake way and when he started up walking again, he did so with a swagger and an expressionless face.

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

On the Fearnley estate I knocked at a house to deliver a registered parcel. A man answered. He was 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 put down the little boy to sign for the package and a thin women in a vest top peered around the door. Her eyes widened, “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 looked a bit like Tony Hancock stopped me in Albion Drive to ask me whether I knew why there was so much “bird muck” on the roofs of the bungalows there.

I asked Mr Dyson at Westfield Farm for a signature and when I produced my PDA he said “Good grief” and put on some spectacles.
Later, on Hall Lane, a man with a Blue-tooth ear piece and a hi-viz vest pulled up in a large pick-up truck, jumped out and began dismantling the red, white and yellow plastic safety barriers that surrounded a recently infilled hole in the road. When I passed, he looked up and said “It’s a right out of the way place this isn’t it. Fucking hell.”

Sunday, 3 October 2010

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

Green sign from Kevin Boniface on Vimeo.

A young man wearing a yellow vest, faded red boxer shorts and fluffy yellow slippers was sat on my neighbour's front step in the rain at 05.30am. Later, I saw a fox on Station Road.

On the bus I overheard a man telling his companion that he’d shat himself in bed after drinking “too many turbo diesels” in the pub.

Mrs Shaw gave me a bag of home grown tomatoes. She said she was completely self-sufficient as far as tomatoes were concerned.

As I pushed the mail through the door of a house on Carr Lane, a handwritten note fell out of the letterbox:

“Mum, go away you are not my mother.

Your so-called fucking son.”

Dr Groves opened his front door to take his mail. He said “It’s a reasonable day by the looks of it.”

Mr Briggs pulled up to tell me he was “off to Oldham today...”

He paused, then said “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 said, then he got back into his VW Passat and drove away.

At the Chartered Accountants, a chubby white male Chartered Accountant with brown plastic rimmed glasses, a white shirt and a grey suit was talking to a slim white female Chartered Accountant in a white shirt and a slightly lighter grey suit — with a fine check.

“Did you get through Chapeltown all right yesterday?” asked the man.

I know! I didn’t see a single white face!” said the woman biting her lip.

“I bet you didn’t want to stop at the lights did you?”

No” said the woman, “I pushed my door-locks down!” She mimed twisting around and pushing down the door lock; “Absolutely terrifying” she said.

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

Places I saw the Cross of St George today:

1. Painted across the bonnet of a white baker’s van.

2. On a flag flying from dead tree in a garden on Vicarage Drive.

3. On a flag flying from the Foresters Arms pub.

4. Painted on a drain cover by the back door of a house on Elizabeth Road.

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...

Cowlersley from Kevin Boniface on Vimeo.

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, 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 elicit 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 was sat smoking a cigarette and fiddling with a Blackberry on the steps at the entrance to the flats. He was blocking my way and so I said hello as I approached; he didn’t even glance up. As I squeezed past, my bag brushing against his knee, he still didn’t move.

When I came out of the flats the man was still there, smoking another cigarette and thumbing his Blackberry. I said hello again; he looked up, squinted, pulled on his cigarette and looked down again.

Two overweight men in their thirties were talking as they walked past me on Meadow Way:

“I bet I fucking could”, said one.

“I bet you fucking couldn’t”, said the other.

“I bet I fucking could”.

“You fucking couldn’t”.

“I fucking could”.

“You fucking couldn’t”.

“I bet I fucking could...”

A women in flat shoes and a very full skirt stopped me in the street to tell me she’d been to the 90th 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”.