2012 in brief:
Monday, 31 December 2012
2012 in brief:
Sunday, 23 December 2012
At 5.30am, I distracted a rat as it sped across Church Lane. It ran headlong into the kerb, bounced off and landed on its back. Very briefly supine, it thrashed about inexpertly, righting itself in a shower of street-lit puddle water before diving for cover under the leggy budleia on the verge.
I saw a rat yesterday too. This one was also flat on its back. Dead. All bedraggled fur and gaping incisors. It was on the pavement outside the newsagent's shop where they display their 'value' pregnancy testing kits on the counter next to the fizzy love hearts and candy foam bananas.
The front door was surrounded by overflowing wheelie bins, a collapsed stack of breeze-blocks, a roll of sodden carpet, an empty hanging basket, a discarded moulded fairy garden water feature with a crack in it, a plastic elbow pipe fitting, an empty children's bubble mixture bottle and an unruly jasmine litter trap—incorporating empty energy drink cans. It was was opened by "Beautiful Sajida". "Oh God! What a weirdo!" she said, contemplating the hand written label on her parcel, "But I suppose it could have been worse". Next door, the man whose garden is covered with slippery ginger dog turds was shouting "Shut the Fuck up!" and next door to that, through the glowing window, I could see them there, laughing in their Santa hats, preparing a Christmas feast on a large wall-mounted television.
Wednesday, 12 December 2012
“OH, IT’S YOU!”, shouted the tall man in the cardigan and trouser braces. “I WAS EXPECTING A PARCEL FROM BOOTS'!" (pronounced Bootses). I’VE BEEN EXPECTING IT FOR ABOUT FIVE DAYS NOW! I DON’T KNOW WHERE THEIR WAREHOUSE IS—OUTER MONGOLIA, I RECKON! THANKS ANYWAY LAD!”
The apostrophe and capital letters in Mrs O’Neil’s name were missing, which led me to mis-pronounce it “Mrs One-ill”. She found this so amusing that she had to put her hand on my shoulder to steady herself.
I caught the woman wearing a green dressing gown in lieu of a coat just as she was leaving the house. “Ooh, that was lucky” she said, slipping the parcel into her enormous shoulder-mounted handbag and lighting herself a cigarette.
At the house with the Audi A6 on the drive and Jamie’s Italy in the window, the man in the golfing sweater told me his neighbours were unlikely to be at home because they are coppers and would be out nicking someone.
I saw three different people wearing flip-flops outside in sub-zero temperatures today.
Wednesday, 5 December 2012
At work, the lift was condemned and then, a bit later on, the safety barrier came down on Martin’s head.
At work, the lift was condemned and then, a bit later on, the safety barrier came down on Martin’s head. He said it hadn’t hurt though because he’d been wearing his new trapper's hat and it had cushioned the impact. We got talking about his hat and he told me he found it almost too warm and that when he went for a walk in the Dales, there was steam coming off it.
Chris told me his coffee was the best he’d ever had from the vending machine. He said it “actually tastes like coffee”. After a few minutes, six or seven people had gathered around him, attracted by the news.
At the house on the moor, the door was ajar and I could hear people talking behind it. I knocked. The conversation stopped for a second, then I heard a woman say “Who’s that gonna be?”
At the house with the geraniums in I heart Playboy pots on the window sill, a large woman in her sixties with short cropped hair and a faded jersey outfit pulled back the curtain when I knocked at the door. I held up her parcel and mouthed “Parcel” to her. She frowned and waved me away. I assumed she’d somehow misunderstood, so this time I mouthed “Postman”, and pointed first to the parcel and then to her. She waved me away again and shouted at me quite loudly, “GO AWAY! I DON’T WANT ANYTHING!” I persisted, holding the parcel up higher and shouting “POSTMAN!” Finally, she let go of the curtain and came to the door, “Sorry love,” she said, “I thought you were trying to sell me stuff.”
Sunday, 25 November 2012
I set off against the weather. The wind was thrashing the trees and, in Linfit Lane, choppy little puddles were breaching their potholes. In the road outside the house with the plastic holly wreath on the front door, the polar bears wearing Santa hats in the window and the pair of pink wellington boots with Wannabe Wag written on them on the front step, two men wearing filthy frayed jeans were in a skip, scavenging scrap.
At the school, the headmistress came to the door to let me in. She usually buzzes me in through the intercom. “Sorry, I couldn’t see who you were; Miss Brown’s not here” she explained.
I walked around the miry puddles to the house down the track by the swollen stream. I had a shoe box sized parcel for the man with the impressive sideburns. He’d hung a new front door which didn’t have a letterbox. I assumed he must have relocated it so I asked him where it was. “It’s in your hand,” he said “in that parcel.”
I joined the queue in the shop behind the skinny white man in his twenties with the snap-back and the black tracksuit top with white trim. He was talking to the man behind the till (the Asian man with the greying bob and the pencil moustache) in a strong Jafaican accent. “Them that ring you up about PPI innit. There’s nuff jobs there! You get paid by the call. You get a headset. Even if nobody answers or they hang up, it still counts. It’s done by computer”
Wednesday, 21 November 2012
The illuminated bollard in the middle of Fitzwilliam Street has been run over again. And, at the junction by the gay bar, where the upside-down shopping trolley has been on the pavement all week, the traffic lights were stuck on red.
On the bus, I sat next to the old woman who was on her way to the cemetery. She was holding a single red rose. Behind us, a group school girls were discussing which they preferred, “Eating or drinking”. They unanimously agreed that drinking was definitely the best.
At the house that should be No.13 but is No.11a instead, the man with the big overcoat that restricts his movement was reversing his new car into a gate post. I judged he might not be in the mood to deal with my enquiry, so I pressed the doorbell and waited as it made a protracted series of notes of seemingly random tone, length and volume. Eventually a woman with a tea towel slung over her shoulder answered. She apologised, “Sorry about the bell, love. I washed it last night and it’s not been right since.”
Friday, 16 November 2012
Outside the Post Office, a man of about twenty, wearing a black-tracksuit-with-white-bits-on and a bum-fluff moustache...
Outside the Post Office, a man of about twenty, wearing a black tracksuit with white trim and a bum-fluff moustache, slammed the door of his new silver Mercedes and swaggered over with his hands in his pockets. Without averting his eyes from the pavement, he mumbled “Move your van, boss. There’s markings innit. D’ya get me?”
The man in the T-shirt, shorts and espadrilles signed for his parcel. He nodded at my hand held PDA, “Them’s weird these, aren’t they?” he said.
On the notice board at the new delicatessen, there are posters advertising classes for Zumba, Yoga for Pregnancy and a Craft Workshop. At the pub a few doors down the chalk board outside is advertising a Smokie tribute band.
I leant on a freshly painted door frame and got some Weathershield on my sleeve, “That’s all you need in’t it” said Mrs McHenry.
Thursday, 8 November 2012
It was windy and the sky was littered with crows, swept up like a thousand bin bags. Deep inside the bus shelter, a large woman wearing a done-up-to-the-top anorak pulled a cellophane wrapped greetings card from a large pretend-leather bag. Inspecting it, she smoothed the corner between her finger and thumb; “Is that bent, or is it me?” she asked.
Also waiting for the bus was a very large man in a black tracksuit top with white trim. He was standing outside the shelter, in the middle of the pavement, feet a metre apart, squared-up against the gale. He wore his hood up, a scarf across the bottom half of his face, his hands deep in his pockets and his shoulders back; rock solid in the teeth of the squall that blew his enormous grey marl sweat pants tight around him, clearly outlining his quite small cock and balls.
“Don’t worry, they’re worse than they seem”, the woman reassured me as she restrained her snarling dogs.
At the house with the statuette of a meerkat holding a sign that says “Welcomes” on it, the old woman behind the glass front door got up and walked away when I rang the bell. Her neighbour, a man who was chewing gum and wearing protective goggles came out and told me he thought it was a crap day but that technology is brilliant.
Sunday, 21 October 2012
The woman who feeds the pigeons by the open market is loaded up with three Jack Fulton bags of birdseed.
6.30am: The woman who feeds the pigeons by the open market is loaded up with three Jack Fulton bags of birdseed. She hides in the shadow of the architrave of the lap dancing club until the man on the ride-on street sweeping machine has disappeared behind the Christian fellowship building.
Friday, 12 October 2012
On the estate where pretend owls outnumber the human population by two to one, a woman tends her plastic window boxes. She wears gold-rimmed Reactolites, pink marigold gloves, flip-flops and a grey fleece jacket and trouser combination. Her patio of pink stone flags with electric cabling running through the joints, is decorated with an assortment of garden ornamentation: a gnome riding on a snail’s shell, a pair of disembodied hands holding a small bird with a solar panel in its back and a lamp in its chest, a hedgehog riding a tractor. A poodle startles the sparrows from the beech hedge. it makes me jump and I nearly trip over the statue of the top half of a woman with no arms.
11.45am: A man with mashed potato and lamb mince down the front of his shirt opens his window to offer me directions but I’m not lost. Next door, a woman with a Summer Wine perm and a grey cardigan answers her door. Her mouth is full and there’s quite a large piece of flaky pastry stuck to her cheek, “Hankfs Flhuff”, she says, as I hand her her parcel.
At the house that always smells of dog piss and stale cigarettes, an old man opens the window to take his mail. “You’re looking very smart in your uniform today, sir”, he says, “Good for you, sir. Good for you.”
I cross the rec’, adding another trail of footprints in the dew. A woman in a pink fleece jacket throws a blue ball with an orange launcher for her Jack Russell terrier, Muff, to fetch.
“More rubbish!” says the man at number 14 when he sees me coming, “I’m gonna put a letterbox on my dustbin so you can post it straight in”. “Oh, leave him alone, he gets paid for that”, says his wife from her plastic patio chair. She’s thumbing through a magazine and smoking a cigarette. “Aye”, says the man, “and the bin men get paid to take it away; the postman giveth and the bin man taketh away”. “Aye, it keeps the world going round though dun’t it, love”, says the woman, winking at me.
The weather turns and the short, rotund woman with the russet dyed almost grown out perm, grey roots and purple anorak is sheltering under her blown inside-out umbrella at the bus-stop. “In’t it awful weather!” she shouts across the road. I agree.
Wednesday, 3 October 2012
On the post box outside the pub where Eeezi Goin’ are playing on Thursday night, somebody has written ‘HYC’ in marker pen. I didn’t know the HYC were still around; they once gave me a beating in the toilets of the Most Luxurious Club In The North. I came out with two black eyes and a bust lip. It was 1988.
The proprietress of the shop was shouting into the phone in Urdu at the top of her voice when I dropped off the bags. Outside, a dope smoking, shaven headed man was showing off his new baby to his dope smoking, shaven headed friends. They were in broad agreement that she was a cutie.
Out in the sticks, where shreds of polythene stream like bunting from barbed wire along the fireweed verges, you can see around corners in the cracked convex mirrors. It’s all lavender and hydrangea, gravel paths and improvised containers, wellington boots, wooden windows, cabling suspended via a tree to a shed whose door is propped open with a lump of cement the shape of a bag of cement. The sign says “Caution, Free Range Children” and the black Lab’ is “deaf as a post”. An old man says “Thanks, Pat”, and gives me the thumbs up. I kick the ball for his dog. The first frost of the year has severed the head of the stone tortoise that stands by his door.
Sunday, 23 September 2012
In the road outside his house there was a dead sparrow, only about ten yards from where I saw the dead fox in March.
Friday, 21 September 2012
Also, while I'm here, There is a facebook page for The Most Difficult Thing Ever at http://goo.gl/aLXkH
PS. New post soon – will probably feature an incident today during which I escaped injury when a squirrel fell out of a tree and probably something about a Ford Transit.
PPS. Here's the link – nearly forgot:
Thursday, 13 September 2012
I woke up early because every car on our street had been smashed up and broken into—ours had been stolen. Luckily, it was only a dream.
I passed three piles of vomit on my way into work.
Sunday, 2 September 2012
On the way into work, I followed a man who was wrapped in a pink Winnie the Pooh duvet along Heaton Road. Further down, where the KIA Shuma with “Driven by one seriously mad bitch” written across its boot usually parks, I passed two young men in hooded tops. They were in animated conversation relating to one another their parts in a violent altercation.
Wednesday, 22 August 2012
The sun is out and the streets are filled with girls in leggings, texting.
At the first house I went to, the garden gate fell off in my hand, at the second, the weight of the opened gate pulled its post from its mounting and, at the third, the flap of the letter-box fell off and landed in the cat’s drinking water.
A military veteran in a blazer and a drunk in a matted fleece jacket were at the bus stop. They both had the same style long grey beard and moustache. At the next bus stop down, a young man in a hooded top was pretending to fight with the metal post that displays the timetable.
An old VW Golf came clanking noisily around the corner. The rear seats were folded down and the load space was packed with rubble and bits of old pallet, the weight of which had lowered the car’s suspension. The car pulled over and a young couple got out. He handed her his on-backwards snapback and she held on to it as he slid himself underneath the car to locate the noise.
I was emptying a post box next to a woman with a striped tracksuit top and a bag-for-life who was discussing the price of travel with a large man in a mac, “It’s free to Haworth on the bus and I enjoy the journey; it’s £20 to Blackburn on the train!” I slammed the door of the box shut and a man in a white Transit van came around the corner and shouted at us all: “Get out my bloody way! Go on!” even though we weren’t in it.
I walked through two spider’s webs today.
Friday, 27 July 2012
The man in his sixties with the faded Just Beachin’ T-shirt that featured a picture of a kitten on a sun lounger was showing a neighbour, another man in his sixties—who has a half-sized resin statue of a horse ‘tethered’ to his house—around his new car. He pointed out something on the dashboard, “It’s guaranteed for life, that. Mind you, I’ve heard that before” he said, before pausing to greet the two men in green high-vis vests who were walking past. “Hiya lads”, he said with a small wave. “Ayup”, said the tallest of the hi-vis men, a pair of long ladders balanced on his shoulders. The other, slimmer and older with grey hair, just nodded and smiled; he was carrying a plate of cup-cakes decorated with blue butter icing and little silver balls.
Later, I was talking to a woman with very straight hair, glasses and a large canvas shopping bag about the problems she’s been having moderating her body temperature since the hospital put her on Warfarin. She was concerned her fleece jacket might make her too hot on her way to the bus stop, even though she’d taken out the lining. Quite a fat man passed us, he was walking a very small poodle while picking his nose and eating it.
Later again, the woman with the dyed black perm and the wind-cheater was talking to the woman in the large 1980s reactolites. She said she was all fired up about her fish tank again. “It’s not been the same since my big shark died. I lost all my enthusiasm, but I’ve been busy with it again recently...” She broke off and grabbed the reactolite woman’s arm, “You’ll have to come over when the dark nights come back, it looks magical”.
Tuesday, 24 July 2012
A dozen or so young women wearing pony tails and predominantly black lycra with a single bright accent of either cerise pink, cobalt blue, orange, lime green etc were taking part in an outdoor aerobics session in the park. At the bus stop opposite, an elderly woman in a beige anorak arrived and said to the other elderly woman in a beige anorak, “It’s been a bit of a rush but I’m here now and that’s all that matters”.
In the farm shop car park, a woman in a beige anorak was telling a man in a beige anorak that she couldn’t get anything except Radio 2 on her car stereo.
Sunday, 15 July 2012
The UPVC door opened and a man wearing a blue fleece jacket and a large rucksack over a black pin-striped suit stepped out...
The UPVC door opened and a man wearing a blue fleece jacket and a large rucksack over a black pin-striped suit stepped out. He stood between the two lilies in plastic terracotta pots to lock up, then turned and walked towards me. “This weather looks a bit naughty!” he said as he passed, looking up at the sky “And they say it’s gonna get worse an’ all”.
Horny by Mousse T was playing over the P.A. in the toyshop. Down the road, the secretary at the recruitment agency said her signature made her look like “a right spaz” and Later, at the chemical plant, the security guard confiscated my lighter before he’d let me on site. He was chewing gum ferociously but his breath still smelt strongly of alcohol.
I followed a large hare for about fifty yards as it bounded along in the middle of the road. It darted off into the field where the magic mushrooms grow in the autumn.
I pulled up on the pavement next to the woman in the beige three-quarter length anorak with all the ties pulled as tight as possible; only her squashed face was visible under her shiny wet hood, giving her the look of a pantomime maggot. I commented on the miserable weather as I climbed out of my van and she agreed it was disappointing for the time of year. “I heard something funny the other day though. She said. “Oh, it did make me laugh!” She stifled a laugh at the very thought, and explained. “My friend’s son said that if the weather carries on like this, we’ll be sunbathing on Christmas day!” She threw her arms up in the air. “Oh, I did laugh!” She cackled.
Wednesday, 4 July 2012
I was walking past the newsagent’s shop when somebody threw a slimy mango stone out of a window on the first floor. It landed where I was just about to step. I adjusted my stride to the left to avoid it but the stone bounced and my foot came down right on top of it. I slid but managed to retain my balance.
The driveway was lined with statues: a spaniel with big eyes holding a gas lamp in its mouth, an outsized squirrel with big eyes holding an acorn, a moonying gnome. Also, a folded-in-half wellington boot was pinned under the nearside front wheel of the TVR Chimaera.
The builder with the swagger and the four foot spirit level called me boss and told me his dog doesn’t like postmen. I approached the front door of the house he was working on and the dog started barking threateningly, its hair on end. The builder ignored the situation and climbed some scaffolding singing the Howard Jones song Like To Get To Know You Well. Eventually, the owner of the house had to come out and collected his mail from me.
An old man with no teeth was wheeling a broken swivel chair out to his bins. “Nothing lasts for ever!” he said.
Tuesday, 26 June 2012
At 6am, my neighbour slammed his front door and shouted “Bastard!” at the top of his voice.
Friday, 15 June 2012
I pulled up too far from the control unit for the entry barrier at the entrance to the technical college. There was a queue of traffic behind me so I couldn't manoeuvre the van any closer. I opened my door and stretched out my arm as far as I could but my foot got tangled in the mat in the footwell and I fell out and onto the street.
Today's squashed wildlife: a frog, a shrew, a slug, two snails, a bee, a squirrel, two earthworms, a wasp, half a starling and a moth*
The woman with the new BMW and the tight jeans was telling her neighbour, a man in cargo pants and a white T-shirt, "When you only pay two, three, four grand for a car it's gonna be a heap of shit."
Sunday, 3 June 2012
At the house with the sign on the gate that says ‘My Doberman lives here’ above a picture of a Doberman’s head and a human hand holding a torch, I stand on a snail as a helicopter flies overhead. On the window sill with the dead moths, there is a money tree plant, a single white sock, a dusty snooker trophy and a TDK D90 audio cassette still in its packaging. When I knock at the door, a man with tattoo sleeves answers, “It’s awkward when you can’t see your own writing”, he says as he fills in his signature.
I call at a house with a parcel but nobody is home. I notice people at the house next door so I go to ask whether they’ll take the parcel for their neighbour. A young man in a vest and jogging pants answers. He agrees to take the parcel and asks, “Are they trainers?” I say I don’t know. “I might try them on”, he says. He winks at me and then he puts his hand down the front of his trousers, adjusts his cock and shuts the door.
Two men are talking on the bus: “Have you ever murdered anyone, Carl?” “No, I haven’t, Jim.” “No, me neither.”
A snail crawls up my kitchen window on the morning of the diamond jubilee of HRH Queen Elizabeth ll.
Monday, 28 May 2012
I knocked at the door but nobody came. While I was waiting, a man in a blue suit walked past in the street, “Carry it out within the usual framework...” he said into his phone. I knocked at the door again but nobody answered so I went to the next house along where I’d seen a woman in the front-room watching the television. I knocked and rang the bell but the woman didn’t come. I knocked again and she still didn’t come. As I made my way back to the first house to leave a note, I glanced up to see whether the woman was still watching the television. She wasn’t, she was standing with her back against the wall in the lee of the chimney breast, head turned away, trying to be invisible.
A man with a Border terrier, shorts and a Superman T-shirt that was too small for him had stopped to talk to a woman in the street. “Honestly," said the woman, "she’s such a weirdo, she just phoned me and said ‘I just had to pick up a dead pigeon. What are you up to?’”
Friday, 18 May 2012
On the pavement next to the junction box with “Kate is gay” written on it, there was a pair of soiled boxer shorts and two smashed Stella bottles.
At the bus station, a group discussion about sandwich filling preferences was underway. The fat woman in her fifties said she could never eat peanut butter and cucumber because she doesn’t like “sweet and sour stuff”.
10a.m.: I found a pair of glasses in the street, thick old lady ones in a leather case. I knocked at a nearby house to see if somebody might recognise them, but there was no reply. I tried the house next door. There was nobody there either. I crossed to the house opposite and walked up the driveway past the caravan with the punctured leather football stuffed over the tow bar. I could see through the window of the front room and behind the display of beer steins on the window sill, there was a man on a settee with the television on. I knocked on the door but the man didn’t move. I rang the bell and knocked again, harder; he still didn’t move. I went to knock on the window but as I got closer I realised he was asleep. I didn’t wake him up, I went next door, where I could see another man sitting in front of a television. I knocked at his door and, once again, the man didn’t move; he was asleep as well. Eventually (another two doors down) somebody answered: a woman with short grey hair and a beige fleece. She took the glasses from me and said she thought they belonged to a neighbour. “I bet she’ll have dropped them on the way to the bus stop. She’ll have grabbed something out of her bag...” said the woman, twisting round and miming grabbing something from an imaginary bag, “...she’ll have yanked at it and pulled her glasses out by mistake. Thanks love, I’ll bob over with them when she gets back”.
At the school, a boy of about nine years old jumped in front of me and shouted, “Hello, random post guy!”
Just down from the yellow grit bin that’s overgrown with nettles and Mrs Lister’s Clematis—where Dick got a nail in his foot—an elderly couple were waiting for me to pull up in my van. He was wearing head-to-toe beige and she was in head-to-toe pale lavender. Both also wore reactolite glasses which were in full anti-glare bloom.
“No. Next door” I said.
“You want to get a coat” said the man “They’re very good those fleeces but they don’t keep out the rain!”
Wednesday, 18 April 2012
I was walking a few paces behind beard-on/beard-off man when he dropped a ten pence piece on the floor. He bent down to pick it up, carefully cradling his dubiously sourced early morning takeaway to his chest as he did so. I overtook him, rounded the corner where the market traders were arguing about the location of their pitches and saw my boss jogging across the road to the office twenty yards ahead. As he reached the pavement by the junction box with the “Oi Ain’t Red” sticker on it, he too dropped some money and then scrabbled around on the floor to pick it up. A few seconds later, when I reached the junction box, I noticed a pound coin he must have missed, so I picked it up.
Saturday, 31 March 2012
My neighbour keeps free range rabbits, chickens and guinea fowl. She lives in a terraced house on a busy road with a small, paved yard. She often leaves the gate open so the animals can roam up and down the street. The first time I saw this, I assumed the animals had escaped and I knocked at her door to tell her. She waved me away and said it didn’t matter. This morning a fox was chasing one of her rabbits round and round the house opposite.
I thought I’d left for work about ten minutes late but I saw all the regulars in their usual places: The black VW Golf with the Polish plates, the silver Punto whose driver sits talking on the phone with the engine running next to the wall where all the pointing fell out in one piece after the bad frost, the 302 bus with the men in hi-vis jackets on board, the tall man with his brace of labradoodles who never says hello, the woman whose collies round up the ducks in the park, the former postman and his wife who say they couldn’t wish for a better lifestyle now he’s retired, the brazen blackbird that hops along at my feet for several yards at the entrance to the park, the disheveled starey-eyed beard-on/beard-off man with the jittery gait and his dubiously sourced early morning takeaway. Five Canada geese also flew low over my head in formation on their way to the pond.
At work, I almost hit a lorry driver who was wearing braces as he descended from his cab. I was distracted by the car park attendant who has taken to wearing a stab vest.
At the reception of the University halls of residence, the Mike Posner song You Think You’re Cooler Than Me was on the radio and, at the precise moment I asked Mr Hewitson for his name for the third time this week, I heard the lyric “and you never say hey, or remember my name. It's probably cuz, you think you're cooler than me.” If Mr Hewitson noticed, he never let on.
At the junior school office, I queued behind a woman with a budgerigar in her handbag (it had hurt its wing and she was only calling in on the way to the vets) and a man who was dropping his daughter off whilst wearing a Keep Calm and Eat Pussy T shirt.
On my way home, I stopped at the supermarket where a big fat man in a Spanish football shirt farted loudly by the turnips.
Friday, 23 March 2012
There was nobody around apart from three men in hi-visibility clothing (myself being one of them. I was in orange, the others in green). We were each walking down different streets towards their confluence which we reached simultaneously.
Twice today, I saw the man who wears the all-year-round head-to-toe waterproofs and runs everywhere. The first time he was running up Heaton Road with his waterproof hood up, The second, he wasn’t running and he had his hood down; he was giving directions to somebody in a Kia Rio on Outcote Bank.
In a rush, I erroneously entered Mr Stead’s name into my PDA as ‘Steadi’. I handed it over for him to sign and apologised if he thought I was being over familiar. He said he didn’t mind at all because he’d been known as ‘Steadi’ throughout his school days which he remembered with particular fondness.
A man in his thirties was standing in the road talking to an elderly woman. She was wearing beige salwaar kameez, headscarf, thick plastic rimmed glasses and a pair of black canvas pumps decorated with a white skull and crossbones motif. The man had a dog, a huge akita, which was also in the road. Also in the road was another man who, with his buck teeth and moustache had a look of Freddie Mercury about him. He was encouraging four children of between about six and nine years to pelt the dog with sticks and small stones from a distance of about two metres. The dog’s owner and the woman were both aware of what was happening but did nothing to discourage the children as missiles began to pile up around their feet. The dog was placid, only ducking between its owner and the old woman for shelter when the barrage became particularly intense. The children continued to throw stuff while Freddie Mercury sourced ammunition for them. Eventually I got into my van and pulled out from the kerb. None of the children, the two men, the woman or the dog attempted to get out of my way and I sat waiting for about thirty seconds. Eventually the man pulled his dog onto the kerb and out of range of the children who then retreated to the other side so I could pass, crushing piles of sticks and pebbles under the wheels as I went.