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.