"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 24. 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 4 quid a week that. I were self-employed for 25 year but I've passed all the work on to someone else—just walked away from it. Still got my name running around on 15 vans mind.
The man waved his paintbrush at his driveway, "Just got a quote to get that re-surfaced: 5 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 70 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.