Friday, 30 September 2011

The Most Difficult Thing Ever (The Movie)

One year abridged into half an hour. Reading from The Most Difficult Thing Ever: Recorded on location in Huddersfield, UK, between August 2010 and August 2011 by Kevin Boniface.
Website: ​victorygarden.co.uk

Sunday, 24 July 2011

6.00 a.m.: As I walk down Fitzwilliam Street, a gust of wind blows an empty Tennent’s Super can from the gutter


6.00 a.m.: As I walk down Fitzwilliam Street, a gust of wind blows an empty Tennent’s Super can from the gutter and it begins to roll noisily across the street. When It reaches the middle of the road, it changes course and starts a descent down the hill at quite a speed. I watch as it overtakes me. About twenty yards further down, a rat appears from the opposite pavement and begins to scuttle across the road on a collision course with the can at the intersection of their paths. I wait for the crash, which seems inevitable, but the rat puts on an impressive turn of speed at the last second and disappears into Marco's Hand Car Wash unimpeded.

I apologise to the man at the County Court for the temperamental nature of my PDA when it shuts down as he’s about to sign for the mail. "It reminds me of a woman" he says. Outside, in the car park, two women in tears console each other next to a Vauxhall Corsa.

The university is busy with graduates in mortar boards and gowns. I queue to get into the car park behind a red Ferrari with the number plate G1RLS.

There are two identical settee cushions—brown with a bit of white stuffing poking out—in the road at either end of Newsome Avenue.

In St Peter's Street someone has stuck a penny to the side of a bin with a blob of gob and a bit further down there are three short blue pencils fastened to the back of the pay and display machine with masking tape.

A woman in a maxi dress is painting a shed while listening to Take That in the gardens next to the art gallery.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

5.30am: A man who couldn't walk straight passed me in the street



5.30am: A man who couldn't walk straight passed me in the street. He was wearing plastic rimmed glasses and carrying a copy of The Guardian under his arm. He staggered slightly, bounced off the wall with his shoulder and spilled Pepsi Max down his top.
In the park, a dozen or so people were playing loud music in the bandstand. They waved and shouted “Morning mate!” as I walked past. When I replied they all collapsed in fits of laughter.

I was emptying a post box when the man in the garden behind it threw a large snail over his shoulder without looking. It bounced off the side of my head and set off across the road with half its shell missing.

On Hayfield Avenue, a woman opened the window of her front room and asked me to help her and her husband to climb out. She said they'd locked themselves in.

Out of the five people Inside the motorcycle showroom, I was the only one without grey hair, a moustache and no beard. I went over to the counter where a grey haired man with a moustache and no beard broke off briefly from his conversation ("She makes a lovely sound, especially when you open her up a bit…”) to tell me that I was "looking for parts" (which I wasn't) He pointed to an adjoining door and said "Through there mate. They'll look after you".

The signs to the car-park at the enormous new church say "Customer Parking".

Saturday, 9 July 2011

On my way into work at 5.30am, I passed a house from which the theme tune from the TV show Countdown...



On my way into work at 5.30am, I passed a house from which the theme tune from the TV show Countdown was blaring out into the street. A police helicopter was hovering directly overhead.

A colleague told me he'd been embarrassed the other day while delivering a package to a sex shop on his round; he'd tripped up a step and knocked over a stand of dildos.

At the house with the decorative Father Christmas and snowman figurine in the window, I handed the owner a parcel. He was an elderly man dressed almost entirely in a single hue of beige (he would possibly have looked naked from a distance ). He shouted to me above the noise of his dog barking from behind the gate, "Don't worry," he said, "She's all this" and he made a C-shaped gesture with his right hand, opening and closing his thumb and fingers to signify talking. "Just like all women" he added with a wink.

I knocked at the door of the house in Manor Street where the owner always jokes that his parcels are consignments of heroin. Littering the short garden path were twenty-nine cigarette butts, fifty-seven KFC salt sachets (some opened and some unopened), a KFC vinegar sachet (unopened), a drinking straw and an empty litre and a half bottle of Fanta. There was also a large quantity of white feathers—far too many to count.

While using the urinal in the toilets on the first floor of the post office, I glanced out of the open window and noticed a shoe on top of the security hut at the main entrance. It's one of those chisel-toe slip-ons with a three-quarter inch heel that the eastern European men often couple with a bootleg jean.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

A woman answered the door in Heights Road...



A woman answered the door on Towngate. "Forty-four today!" she exclaimed as I handed over her parcel. "I'm behaving very irresponsibly for a Grandma! Well, I will be later, I'm gonna get hammered!" She glanced up at my hat and her eyes widened in surprise as she took in a sharp breath. "Oh my God!" she said, "I don't believe it! Cool hat!" and she dropped the parcel and ran back inside the house. "Wait there!" She shouted, "This is such an amazing coincidence, I've got one exactly like it!" I could hear her rummaging around in the front room, "It's here somewhere! Wait there!" I waited on the step for a few seconds until the woman shouted again "Here it is! Here it is!" and came running back to the door. "Tadah!" She exclaimed, jazz hands either side of her face. On her head was a hat that resembled mine in so much as it was a hat but apart from that it couldn't have been more different. Mine is a structured cap in light blue/green check with a rigid peak and an adjustable band and hers was a floppy, plain brown beret type with a row of five metal studs around the front of the small, soft peak. I feigned amazement, wished her a happy birthday and went back to my van. On the other side of the road, a hefty teen girl with dyed red hair, black satin tracksuit top, black tights, black jersey skirt that didn't entirely cover her backside, and a pair of disintegrating grey Ugg boots was violently shoving a spotty teen boy outside the newsagents shop, "You gave me one-pound-fucking-twenty. Fuck off!" she yelled.

Mr Barton has fixed a hook adjacent to his back door on which he hangs the fully loaded super-soaker he uses to dissuade cats from fouling his borders. He has also been shooting squirrels with an air rifle. I've counted seven dead in his back garden in the last few days. When I asked him about it earlier in the week he claimed they'd all died of old age but yesterday he admitted to having shot them. He said, "They don't understand death like we do" and he made a fist with his right hand and beat his chest above his heart; "We are the only ones who know we're going to die".

Sunday, 19 June 2011

I walked into work in the slipstream of a man who...



I walked into work in the slipstream of a man who was smoking strong weed and listening to Chaka Demus and Pliers without headphones. As we walked through the Market Place, a splay footed drunkard wearing the remains of a tuxedo shouted "HELLO!" to us both from the steps of Headrow Furnishers.

Two women in their seventies were discussing custard tart:
"It was lovely; I had the custard tart", said the tallish one with the mid-calf length floral-print pleated skirt and the Summer Wine perm.
"Ooh, I do love custard", said the shortish one with the mid-calf length floral-print pleated skirt and the Summer Wine perm.
"My mother used to make the best custard tart—lovely thin pastry." Said the tallish one.
"Lovely. My husband says he doesn't care how thick the pastry is!" Said the shortish one, eyebrows outraged.
"Well, that's it you see: men don't mind so much about the pastry. All they're interested in is the custard. All men love custard."
"That's true. Whenever we go anywhere the men always go for the custard option. It's a schoolboy thing I think."
"You're right."

At the house with the balloons tied to the gate posts, the builders were swearing on the roof. I counted seven fuckings and a bastard in the time it took for the young mum to walk her two toddlers up the driveway to the front door for the birthday party.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

A crow was pecking at the basketball sized piece of scrunched up fish and chip paper in the road



A crow was pecking at the basketball-sized piece of scrunched up fish and chip paper in the road. A car approached and the crow picked up the paper in its beak and flew off over the houses with it. Later, on the same street, I saw a woman in a spangly lilac sari and headscarf hoovering the pavement outside her house with big upright Dyson.

I was smoking on the steps at the entrance to the park opposite the post office with Michael. I told him about the woman I'd seen hoovering the pavement and he said he'd once seen a man watering his garden despite the fact he'd paved over it several years earlier. I suggested the man might simply have been cleaning the paving, but Michael said that when he'd asked him what he was doing, the man had said "Watering the flowers". At this point in the conversation, a sparrow flew down and landed in the gap between us on the step, about a foot away from each of us. Michael hadn't noticed it so I caught his eye, said "Ey-up, who's this?" and glanced down at the bird. When Michael caught sight of it, he started with a small yelp of surprise. The sparrow flew off and Michael said: "I fucking hate birds".

A group of school children passed me in the street. They all had their coats over their heads to block the glare of the sun on their phone screens.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Three men were playing on the roundabout in the children's playground at 6am...


Three men were playing on the roundabout in the children's playground at 6am. The one with the black bandana tied around his head was pushing it round as fast as he could and repeatedly shouting "Oh baby! You're gonna die!"

A man in military uniform was carrying a carriage clock across Church Street.

At the newsagent, Christine was on the till. She told me the new owner is applying for an off-license. "I don't want to be in here on my own at 10 o' clock at night with all the skanks coming in. It's a local newsagent for goodness sake. He thinks he's bloody Tescos!"

A man in sportswear was watching me deliver a parcel. He was leaning on a broken fence with a bottle of Ribena in one hand and his bollocks in the other.

A woman was walking past the pink teddy bear in the road on her way up to Dead Man's Hole. She was wearing a pale grey fleece jacket, black ski-pants and was carrying a shopping bag that was so big she had to hold it with her arm bent at he elbow so it didn't drag along the floor. She was talking on a phone: "Joan has been up with some boxes and one looked like it might have been a cat basket."

I found a four leaf clover in Dead Man's Hole.

Adam Ant's tour bus was parked outside Holmfirth Post Office.

Things people said to me today when I handed them their post (not including 'Thankyou' or variations thereof – which is what nearly everyone says):
"Is that it? That's a poor do."
"Ooh lots!"
"That's not too bad."
"That's great."
"Parcel? Oh yes, that's David's tea actually, birdseed."
"You haven't been knocking long have you? I was asleep."
"Oh my God!"

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Up the driveway of replica stone setts...




Up the driveway of replica stone setts, past the box trees, the cobbles, the blue slate chippings and the saplings with their nursery tags flapping in the breeze to the faux timber door. A large cockchafer has turned turtle on the doorstep. I right it gently with the toe end of my boot.

Twice in succession during my parcel delivery, the door was answered by a middle aged woman with a broken arm*. 
At the next house, the door was answered by a man in his thirties with shaving foam all over his chin. 
Another full hour into the delivery and somebody else with a broken arm answered a door. This time it was a middle aged man, his sweater bulging over the bad arm with the empty sleeve dangling at his side.

While I was delivering mail to the gym, the man with the regulation haircut and the 4x4 in the carpark was explaining how much he hated show muscle. "All the young lads are into it," he said. "They look good but they've got no stamina. I was sparring with a lad twice my size and half my age yesterday and I just hung in there till he wore himself out and then gave him a good smack in the kidneys."

At the BMW garage, a grey wagtail was flitting around in the dust on the forecourt. I went inside through the big glass doors and, when I handed over the package to the man in the blue overalls, he said "Is it a food parcel from UNICEF?" I laughed but when the overall man looked for a reaction from the man at the desk in the corner—crew neck sweater with his shirt collar tucked inside—he didn't get one.


*This has happened before: see November 2nd 2010

Friday, 27 May 2011

I still pass the man with the tartan Thermos...



I still pass the man with the tartan Thermos and the all-year-round woolly hat on my way into work but I've stopped saying hello since it obviously makes him so uncomfortable. This morning I happened to glance up as he approached and he faked a trip to avoid making eye contact.

I delivered a parcel to a man with a side parting and a plaid shirt. He told me it was a box of chocolates. He suggested that should I ever want to "get round the wife" then I could do worse than to order some myself. "They really are first class" he said, "far more effective than flowers". The man also mentioned that he owned a Volvo V70 which he also recommended very highly, "A beautiful car" he said.

The man whose shirt was perforated with dozens of of tiny hot-rock holes apologised for his signature saying it had "gone a bit funny".

Wildlife of note: Two dead hedgehogs, one dead blackbird, one dead squirrel, one heron (alive), one woodpecker (alive).

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

At the newsagent where the Adele album is played on a loop...



At the newsagent where the Adele album is played on a loop, two men in their fifties were comparing their experiences of school. 
"When the bell rang and we were playing football, we'd just ignore it. Did you do that?" 
"No, not really."

On Bankfoot Lane, a man in a flat cap was clearing debris left by the high winds. He held up a garden gnome, "I just found this," he said "isn't he a little beauty?”
Later, I got hit in the face by a wet clematis when it broke free of its trellis in a strong gust and a woman answered a door wearing a Father Christmas oven glove. Also, the Christmas tree is still up and fully decorated in the pool room at the flats.

I saw an owl at Wheelwrights farm and a man who looked like Boris Yeltsin going into the The Laundry Basket launderette. A young boy of about seven threatened to cut my head off with an (a real) axe and a man in the the park with a chest length beard and Bermuda shorts asked me whether I'd ever been to London.

I saw Marc getting off the bus at Berry Brow. He had a snare drum in one hand, some cymbals in the other and his jacket done up to the top. I pulled over to say hello and he said he'd just got back from London where he'd played at Ronnie Scott's. I said to say hello to his mum, he said he would and then he went because it was raining.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

The man in the black Astra was blocking the street...



The man in the black Astra was blocking the street while he was on the phone. He broke off briefly from his call to wind down his window and shout "You fat fucking bitch!" to the woman in the red Saab at the front of the queue of oncoming traffic. She didn't move because she couldn't; he was blocking the road and she had a queue of traffic behind her. He called the Saab woman a fat bitch a couple more times before he finished his call and then sped off, shouting "You fat bitch!" a final time as he went.
Half an hour later I saw the Astra man again, he was dropping an old man off at the hospital. They were smiling and sharing a joke together. Astra man took the old man's arm and patiently escorted him across the car park and up the steps to the reception area.

At Hill Tree Park, the air was filled with copulating insects, the yelping of lap dogs and the smell of deep fat fryers. A man in jeans was putting a fresh coat of magnolia Wethershield onto his stucco. I said “Good morning" and he made a sort of "mgh" noise without looking up.

Garden statues: Squirrels, many rabbits, birds (mainly owls and woodpeckers), an elderly couple on a bench, hedgehogs, a donkey (with saddle bags), a horse, an angel, a castle, windmills, otters, a fox, tortoises, cats, highly glazed orbs, a 10’ tall giraffe, ducks, gnomes, buddhas, frogs (two that croaked as I walked past), a miniature Chinese terracotta army figure, some miniature Easter Island heads, fairies, a lion, cats, dogs (mainly terriers and collies), naked/semi-naked women, men with golf bags/cricket bats/shotguns/bags with swag written on them, molded resin imitation Jean Arp/Barbara Hepworths...

A plane took off from the airfield. Its engine cut out for about five seconds as it flew overhead.

Mr Ainley asked me why the mail was so late these days. He said he was going to write to his MP and "sort the bugger out".

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Mr Briggs intercepted me for his mail...



There's a copy of The Watchtower magazine pinned to the front door of one of the back-to-backs. Someone has scrawled across Jesus' face in biro "NOT INTERESTED, ONE WORD FREE WILL!"[sic].

As we watched the police moving the drunks along in the park, Michael told me he'd once seen a man staggering down the street with a bottle in his hand and another two in the pockets of his coat. He said he'd seen the man's expression turn from horror to relief as the bottle in his hand had slipped onto the floor but hadn't broken. But then, as he'd bent down to pick it up, the bottles from his pockets had fallen out and smashed all over the pavement and his expression had turned to one of bewildered anguish.

The swallows were swooping after the flies that buzzed around the cow shit on the track down to the farm. I pulled up at the house and got out. The air was fetid and still, hung thick with the stench of pig shit. A woman with a grey bob and plastic rimmed glasses opened the door. She winced and said "Oh! What a foul smell!" Then, with one hand over her nose she grabbed the parcel from me and shut the door behind her without saying goodbye.

The man who is brewing beer in his garden and doesn't wear a shirt said hello.

I stood on a dead mouse and, even after several minutes of trying, couldn't get the worst of it out from between the treads of my shoes.

Friday, 29 April 2011

The tall thin woman with the Highland Terrier under her arm...



The tall thin woman with the Highland Terrier under her arm was saying "Oh super, union jack bun cases!” and, under the buddleja in the park, the police were pouring away litre bottles of White Star Cider.

Three red faced, grey haired men wearing gold, wire rimmed glasses and faded anoraks were smoking on the doorstep of the pub. Next door, at the ice-cream parlour, three swishy haired girls in T-shirts and sweat pants sat at a chrome table on the pavement sipping smoothies and eating sorbet.

A young boy with a pot on his arm was trying to get into my van. I shouted a warning to him and he said he was looking for his parcel. I said I hadn't got his parcel and he called me a dumbo then grabbed hold of my arm to see what I was carrying. The front door of the house opposite opened and a woman called the boy in, he ignored her and reiterated that he thought I was a dumbo. The woman called him again, twice, but he continued to ignore her and she eventually gave up and went back inside. I opened the door of my van and the boy jumped in. I grabbed him and dragged him out. He was muttering about his parcel and me being a dumbo. When I got into the driver’s seat the boy kept opening my door before I could lock it. In the end I drove off with it still open. He chased me down the street shouting "Dumbo!"

When I got to the end of Victoria Road, the way was blocked by a long wheelbase van on its side behind a police cordon. I made a three point turn and, on my way back up the road I past a colleague so I pulled up to tell him about it. He said he'd seen the police chasing the van down the road five minutes earlier.

A couple got off the bus. They were each holding a hand of a little boy of about two or three years old. As they walked down the street with the boy between them they failed to notice his trousers gradually slipping down to his ankles. The boy was struggling to keep up because his movement was restricted. He couldn't adjust his trousers because his mum and dad were holding his hands. He was looking up, trying to make the couple aware of his predicament but they were chatting and didn't notice. Eventually, when they were almost having to drag the boy along, they looked down. They stopped and laughed and the woman adjusted the boy's trousers and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

I caught three teenage boys writing "Paki's Rule" and "Pussy" on my garden gate. I told them that I was a nice man but that I wouldn't be anymore if they kept writing on my stuff.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

At work I was involved in a discussion about the provenance of the eighties metal band, Saxon.




At work I was involved in a discussion about the provenance of the 80s metal band, Saxon. John was wondering whether it was legitimate to claim them as a Huddersfield band because he’d heard they were originally from Denby Dale. Another colleague said he thought that although Denby Dale has a Huddersfield postcode, it falls under the administrative jurisdiction of Barnsley*. Another colleague said he was at school in Huddersfield with a member of the band’s nephew.
When I got home, I Googled Saxon and discovered that Biff Byford, the band’s singer, was born in Honley (HD9, not Barnsley) so I emailed John to let him know.
My father-in-law once told me that Puff the Magic Dragon was from Honley and I believed him.

I was driving through the new housing development that now occupies the site of the old mill. The garages are too small to fit cars inside and consequently the streets are double lined with mainly silver Puntos and Astras. I had to brake to avoid a young boy who was staggering from one side of the road to the other whilst balancing an upside-down yard brush on one finger.

I saw Howard in town. He waved an envelope at me and said “Bastards have taken £550 off my pension in interest!” He crossed to my side of the road, “There’ll be none of that when my lot get in: BNP. We’ll string all them bankers up. Bastards. And the bloody unions! They’ve fucked your pension up, haven’t they? Bastards! They’ve gone fucking soft! In my day if anyone had gone within a mile of our pension fund the union would have had us all out, shut the place down completely. I were out for twelve week once, nearly bloody starved to death. Ended up scotching for a pound an hour, never told anyone. I had to do it. The unions now are bastards” He jabbed me in the chest “They’re condemning you to a life of poverty. The bastards!”
I said I needed to get going and Howard said “I hope you’re not rushing round for them bastards. Bastards!”

*It doesn't, it is in Kirklees, as is Huddersfield.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The sun has been shining...



The sun has been shining. People are squinting their eyes and shielding the screens of their phones at bus stops. It's hot, I counted seven-three discarded drinks containers on my way into work this morning. An average of one every thirty-four meters.

Someone has written “HeRB” on the Church Street post box.

The milkman's two young assistants were talking as they waited on the kerb for the van.
“She asked for nine semi, I put twelve in and now she wants thirteen” said the short chubby white one.
“Why?” asked the short chubby black one.
“Because she’s a greedy bitch” said the white one.

I saw a man with a green Atari T-shirt drop the cardboard packaging from his toy machine gun onto the pavement by the bench at the corner of John William Street—where the woman with the short skirt used to feed the pigeons.

Inside the motorcycle showrooms, a sales assistant was recommending a bike cleaning product to a customer.
"We had a leak from a can of it a while back and when we'd cleaned it up the floor was sparkling—white as snow. Amazing stuff!”
"I think I'd better get some of that then" said the customer.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

The man drinking White Star Cider on the bench outside the Shine On Hand Car Wash...




The man drinking White Star cider on the bench just down from the Shine On Hand Car Wash (‘Only One Using Genuine Chamois Leathers’) demands I stroke his bow legged bull terrier. He promises it won't bite. I stroke its head and it jumps up at my knee, wagging its tail affectionately. The man laughs and says "Told you".

There are three bunches of flowers tied to the branches of the small tree behind The Mahal (‘The Only Genuine Charcoal Tandoor (Clay Oven) In Town’). They are still in their cellophane packaging with sachets of flower food attached.

A man with a ginger beard is erecting an authentic looking teepee in unbleached canvas on the grass at the bottom of the flats. Two other men in their thirties are staging a fight with cudgels and large viking shields. A small group of spectators lines the railings: a teenage couple in tracksuits smoking cigarettes and a man in his late twenties in a tracksuit and a bandana who is sipping beer from a can and fondling his genitals.

The woman who answers the door after the third knock struggles to sign for her parcel while holding a veil over her face at the same time. She’s wearing England slippers with a cross of St George motif.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

I saw a man's brown lace-up Clarks shoe on the pavement



There’s a brown lace-up Clarks shoe on the pavement outside the house with the ring of miniature standing stones on the lawn. The other of the pair is twenty yards down the road at the bus stop where the chubby goth boy is being chased by a wasp.

Outside Euphoria Fitness, a man and a woman in boxing gloves are sparring in the car-park. He’s holding up his hand and sh’s hitting it. He’s shouting "Hit it! Hit it!". I cross the road to the garage where, coincidentally the mechanic is listening to a song with the lyric Euphoria, Take my Hand while he works on an old Vauxhall Corsa.

Someone has written Lynard Skynard and The Who in the dirt on my van.

The skip lorries are tailing back down the road from the tip. An elderly man in salwar kameez has climbed into the back of one of them and is raiding it for timber.

Two men are playing pool In the communal room at the flats. One of them is unable to take his preferred shot because his cueing action is obstructed by the still fully decorated Christmas tree in the corner. Outside, I can hear a teacher in the school yard opposite shouting "Quickly Shakira, I'm waiting!"

I call round at a friend’s house and I notice his neighbour has put up a wobbly, hand painted sign on his gate that says "If you are preaching or selling do not enter coz the wife bites."

Thursday, 24 March 2011

I saw a young couple in the town centre early this morning


6 a.m.: I pass a striking young couple in the town centre. He has a camp lisp, a tight T-shirt, his arms folded and his jeans turned up above the ankle. She is very tall, very blonde and wears hot pants and cork wedge sandals. I overhear the man say "I've got to take Sammy's rabbit to get its claws clipped". They head off towards the market place where the stalls are being set up and, a half minute or so later, a chorus of lewd shouts comes up from that direction.

I shout to the woman in the pink turtle neck jumper and grey gilet who is valeting her Peugeot 107 but she can’t hear me above Michael Jackson's Bad on the car stereo. When I eventually attract her attention she looks flustered and embarrassed. She apologises and says she's been in a world of her own.

The man in the bobble hat and the plastic rimmed glasses stares as I empty the pillar box. I glance up and let on. He’s picking his nose vigorously. He doesn't acknowledge me but continues staring and picking. I carry on clearing the box but I can still feel him staring. I look up again and this time the man glances down quickly and starts to examine the bogey he’s been rolling between his thumb and forefinger. I slam the box shut and drag the sack of mail across the pavement. As I load it into the van, the man is still staring at me but has now started to excavate the other nostril. He’s prodding around up there, tipping his head on one side to get a good purchase and the only time he took his eyes off me is to inspect the end of his finger. I get into my van just as the man's bus arrives: Stotts ...taking people to places.

The garden wall at No.27 is now a pile of rubble after a bus crashed into it the other day. The bus company have erected a Temporary Bus Stop next to it.

The spare wheel cover of the Suzuki Grand Vitara on the driveway at No.47 is decorated with a psychedelic picture of a native American Indian standing next to a rainbow while a large starburst sun rises behind his head like a halo. The car's owner is in his garden wearing nothing but a pair of cut-off denim shorts to strim around the two small whitewashed boulders in the middle of the lawn.

I pass two men on my way home. The first, a man in his fifties, wears a long heavy overcoat, a woollen scarf and black leather shoes. The second, a young man in his twenties, wears a T-shirt, knee length cotton shorts, no socks and flip flops.

Friday, 18 March 2011

There was a house brick wrapped in silver foil...



Yesterday, There was a house brick wrapped in silver foil and two metal dessert spoons on the bench on Fitzwilliam Street. This morning, the spoons have gone but the house brick is still there.

Julie from the canteen is outside smoking a cigarette. She tells me that two people have ordered poached eggs. She says she hates making poached eggs and the thought of having to go back inside and do it is ruining her cigarette break.

The man in an anorak was leaning on his fence smoking a roll-up. He asked me whether I had any mail for him. I told him I had to do the estate first and he said he'd hang on for me. An hour-and-a-half later I came off the estate and he was still there, leaning on the fence, smoking a roll-up.

The Border collie has been barking, upsetting ornaments and head-butting the window of the front room of the first house on the cul-de-sac ever since I pushed the mail under the shed door (the owner has asked me not to use the letterbox because the dog tears up the mail).
Three doors down, a man in a big quilted coat and aviator shades, winds down the window of his black Honda Prelude with red rims and blacked-out rear windows, winks at me and says "Have you got owt for me mate?" I hand him his mail and he says "Sweet mate. Nice one."
At No.12, the large Polish man with the paintbrush moustache who wears his tracksuit bottoms very high (they go right up his arse crack) has been pruning next door's overhanging hypericum with an electric carving knife. Now, he's talking to another neighbour, the young Asian man in the white hooded top who is walking an aggressive looking boxer dog. When I pass them, the dog sees me and nearly pulls him over, jerking him around 180 degrees. The boxer's barking sends the collie at No.2 into a frenzy and it jumps onto the window sill with all four feet, its fur squashed up against the glass. It falls off again in quite a comical fashion but continues to bark undaunted.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

In the office, Adam was telling us about the curries he'd eaten over the weekend



In the office, Adam is telling Nathan about the curries he's eaten over the weekend:
"Balti Friday night, Pathia Saturday night and on Sunday I went round to a mate's house and we had a nice Rogan Josh. Not a bad weekend."
“Blimey, I bet you're back on the fruit now! Mind you, I suppose they're not too bad for you, curries, are they?" Says Nathan.
"Depends what you fire in with ‘em, doesn't it kid?" says Adam without looking up from his work. He’s standing on a box slotting letters into the top row of his frame (he's not particularly short but he says it makes his arm ache otherwise).

A red kite (the bird kind) drifts along the tree line above the road as the woman with the picture of an alien on her sweatshirt approaches with her two boxer dogs. As she gets closer, the dogs snarl and bark at me. Without looking up, the woman shouts "Shut up! It's a man, not a Martian!"

I slip on a flight of greasy green Yorkstone steps. I end up at the bottom, lying on my back with my feet on the patio, slightly winded. I tell the owner about it. "Are they slippy?" he says and hands me a mis-delivered letter from the day before.

At one of the sheltered bungalows on the estate, the old woman with the grey perm, faded blue anorak and american tan tights is putting out her wheelie bin. It’s decorated with a large stripy orange and green sticker that said Pimp My Bin! in a graffiti style font.

On my way down to the farm, I see a freshly killed blue tit in the middle of the lane. On my way back up five minutes later, it has gone.

Someone has written ‘Retard’ in the dirt on the side of old Mr Richardson's new Honda CR-V.

A rabbit runs across my path in the same place as one did yesterday.

On the estate, a boy of about five is playing on a scooter in the street. "Are you going to my house?" He asks. "Yes" I say and he throws down his scooter and runs inside shouting "Wait there!" Moments later, I see him through the window of the front room wrestling an agitated Jack Russell terrier from the back of the settee. A door slams and the boy comes running back outside. "It's our dog" he says, "I had to lock him in, he hates postmans”.


Saturday, 5 March 2011

I arrived at work early so I made a cigarette and stood on the pavement to smoke it...



I arrived at work early so I made a cigarette and stood on the pavement to smoke it. After a minute or so, a blue tit flew out from a tree and landed on the wing mirror of the Citro├źn Picasso parked in front of me. It hopped down onto the bottom lip of the mirror-casing and perched there facing the glass, appearing to admire its reflection. After a few seconds, it flew to the mirror of the next parked car and did the same thing, and then again onto the third car before it disappeared back among the shrubs in the church gardens. I was quite excited to have seen this and asked the man on the corner who was checking the soles of his shoes for dog shit whether he had, but he hadn't.

I was on a doorstep on the new estate filling in a 'Failure to deliver' notice. Above me, a wall-mounted speaker repeatedly announced in a southern accent: "Warning, you are being recorded by a security camera". It only stopped after I'd finished and left.

Yesterday, I said hello to a man in his garden and he completely blanked me. He was there again today, so I said hello again. This time he glanced up briefly to say "Now then" before continuing raking his leaves.

I asked the woman in her early thirties whether she'd take a parcel for her next door neighbour. She refused, saying "I don't really know them and they're just renting so, you know?”.

I commented on the fluffiness of a dog to its owner as she passed me in the street. The woman stopped but the dog started towards me, growling. The woman yanked on the dog's lead and said "They're not right friendly aren't Chows. If he's ever out in the garden, you'd best not go in".

There's been a bouquet of flowers (still in cellophane) on the doorstep of No.67 all week. The man who lives there must know about them because he's been out working in his garden every day.

A window cleaner was up his ladder at no.94. I shouted hello as I walked up the garden path but he didn't respond. When I came back down the path, he'd climbed down, and was walking across the lawn to get his buckets. He didn't look up from under the peak of his woolly cap as he passed but he slapped the back of one hand against the palm of the other several times and said "Seems to be getting fucking colder". I think he was talking to me because there was nobody else around.

I saw an old colleague in the street. He told me a mutual friend I hadn't seen for years had died in an road accident. "I were at me dad's, polishing me boots when I heard" he said.

Two young men in hooded tops were fastening some blue flashing lights to the roof of a car. They each had an upturned bucket to stand on so they could reach.

The receptionist was on the phone:
“I’ve got James from SL Recruitment on the line...Do you want anything to do with him? If I tell him you're in a meeting he’ll just keep ringing me and...Ok...” 
Click.
“Hello, James? He says he doesn’t need anything at the moment so I should give it a good long while before you ring again...That’s alright. Bye bye.” 
Click.

Back in town, a man on crutches with his cap on backwards was repeatedly gobbing on the path in the church gardens while his girlfriend (baby blue tracksuit and ponytail) was doubled over laughing at him. The man swung for her with his crutch and hit a pigeon instead which caused his girlfriend to collapse onto the floor in hysterics.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Mrs Hussain was in her front room on a treadmill watching telly again



Mrs Hussain was in her front room on a treadmill watching tele' again. She answered the door with a water bottle in her hand.

An old man shouted me from the first floor of the flats. He asked how long it would be before he got his post. "About half an hour" I said. 
"Hurry up lad, I need to go out! I'm already late, I've been waiting for you!" 
He was dressed in pyjamas.

A man in his 60s wearing, jeans, slippers, a faded purple jersey vest and an impressive tan said "Hello buddy" as he cut his finger nails in the street. "She sends us outside to clip these", he explained.

An elderly white man with elbow patches on his cardigan and no teeth shouted me from the house across the street. I crossed over to him and he handed me some mail saying "it's my address right enough but there's never been anyone of that name living here. I've lived here since this were built". I looked at the top envelope. He'd underlined the Asian name on it in green ink. "Go see him eight doors down with the BMW and the Juliet window; he's a foreigner, he might know", he said. I took the mail and apologised for the misdelivery but pointed out that I am obliged to deliver the mail as addressed, "For all I know, someone else could have moved in…” I explained. The old man cut me off, rolled his eyes and said "You might think I'm a bit simple but if something says I.C.I on it, you don't deliver it to David Brown's do you?" He mimed studying an address. Looking down at the imaginary letter in one hand, he stroked his chin with the other, a cartoon wide-eyed simpleton look on his face. "I would if it was addressed to I.C.I at David Brown’s address, yes” I said. "Well," said the man irritably "All you need to know is that while this sign is on this door it's me who lives here and no-one else!" And he stabbed his finger at the engraved brass plaque screwed to the door frame that read "IF YOU'VE NOT BEEN INVITED, YOU'D BETTER HAVE A DAMN GOOD REASON FOR KNOCKING AT THIS DOOR."

I was waiting to cross the road. The man who wears black polo-neck jumpers and never opens his curtains was also waiting to cross on the other side. Another man whose name is Johno (according to the sign in the windscreen of his wagon) stopped and waved us both across. As we passed one another, the polo-necked man looked up at me and said "Hello, my friend".