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".