Wednesday 23 February 2011

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

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

An old man shouts me from the first floor of the flats. He asks how long it will be before he gets his post. "About half an hour" I say. "Hurry up lad, I need to go out! I'm already late, I've been waiting for you!" He is dressed in pyjamas.

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

An elderly white man with no teeth and elbow patches on his cardigan shouts me from the house across the street. I cross over to him and he hands 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 wa' built". I look at the top envelope. He's 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". I take the mail and apologise for the misdelivery but point out that I am obliged to deliver the mail as addressed, "For all I know, someone else could have moved in…” I explain. The old man cuts me off, rolls his eyes and says "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 mimes studying an address. Looking down at the imaginary letter in one hand, he strokes 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 say. "Well," says 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 stabs his finger at the engraved brass plaque screwed to the door frame that reads "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".

Tuesday 15 February 2011


At the bus stop:
WOMAN IN HER FORTIES: I’m not gonna be in tomorrow, I’m going to a concert.
MAN IN HIS FIFTIES: What concert are you going to?
WOMAN: Shaky
MAN: Shaky? What’s Shaky?
WOMAN: (exasperated) Shakin’ Stevens! I was that exhausted after Bad Manners I booked the day off this time.
MAN: Shakin' Stevens? I had one of his LPs I think. I think it wa' rubbish. Did he sing Green Door?
MAN: It wa' rubbish that.
WOMAN: Well I won’t be in anyway.

Mr Haigh has stuck some large COME ON ENGLAND stickers on his wheelie bins (his normal one and his recycling one).

The builder working on a new porch is singing the Simply Red song, For Your Babies very loudly. He breaks off briefly to say “Alright, pal” without looking up as I walked down the garden path.

A woman stops me in the street to tell me she can smell toast.

I get stuck in the lift at the flats for half an hour until the engineers came to open the door.

There’s been a tangerine in the gutter on Bradford Road all week and yesterday I saw two bananas, one in Cote Lane and one in New Hey Road near the roundabout at Mount. This morning I saw a full bunch of bananas in Cote Lane and twenty or so eggs smashed in the gutter of Heaton Road.

The man who sleeps in his car on Mucky Lane has got a new one, a silver Rover 75.

Thursday 10 February 2011

I gave a colleague a lift home...

I gave a colleague a lift home. He told me his brother, who is a shopfitter and flies model aircraft in his spare time, had been picked up by the police whilst waiting for a bus in the early hours and had had no idea why. After four hours in a cell he’d overheard the duty sergeant telling the arresting officers they’d never make a case for loitering at a bus stop and they let him go.

Two children were talking on their way to the primary school. The chubby girl with long blond hair and the elasticated waistband was showing a friend her new glasses:
"Yes, we found the best opticians" she said.
"Which one?" her friend asked.
“Erm, I, I can't remember what it's called. It had a grey sign".
"No, they've got a green sign. I can't remember. Anyway, I'm saying they were good but I'm still waiting for my Playboy case, aren't I?”

A couple were having sex in the back of a plumber's van by the park.

At one of the big houses by the golf course the man who answered the door smelt of Brasso.

I saw a woodpecker trying to make a hole in a telegraph pole on Lea Lane.

Mr Whitwam had cordoned off the driveway of his static caravan with a length of white plastic chain stretched between two traffic cones that had been sprayed silver. He was kneeling on a large foam cushion insert from an old settee while he scraped moss from between his pink herringbone setts. His Jaguar was parked in the road.

Tuesday 1 February 2011

Mr Briggs intercepted me for his mail outside the old hall in Stile village...

Mr Briggs intercepted me for his mail outside the old vicarage. He asked me where the regular postman was and I said he was off work with an upset stomach. "One of our lads had the shits last week" said Mr Briggs. And without pausing for a response he said "Right, I'm going”, and he sped off, spinning the wheels of his Bedford Rascal on the greasy old millstone setts.

I drove down the narrow track to Springwood End sending dog walkers scurrying to gather up their pets. The man with the Grayson Perry hairdo and the double-denim efficiently wrangled his King Charles but struggled for a while with his long-haired dachshund. The two men in hunters caps, puffa jackets and green wellies had no problem with their brown labrador but the man with the gilet, the Dalmation and the iPod couldn’t hear me, so I had to drive most of the way at walking pace.
On the way back up, another man with a brown labrador flagged me down to ask whether I could spare any elastic bands.

My first (and only) sighting of a person under the age of retirement today was the builder who is converting the barn on the edge of the moor. His yellow and black heavy-duty site radio was playing Baggy Trousers by Madness while he stood with his hand down the front of his trousers talking to the woman with the brown labrador, the NY ski hat and the cerise pink walking socks. He was telling her how much he enjoyed reading books about the 2nd world war: “It could be anything from somebody's memoirs to an account of a battle. As long as it's not fiction, I'm not arsed about that" he explained.