Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 in brief.




2012 in brief. 

Frozen dog piss.
Topiary armchairs. 
Holding a large piece of stone. 
Consolidating your Argos bags.
Suggestive trees.  
Killing a pigeon at the traffic lights. 
Black-tracksuit-bottoms-with-white-bits-on.  
A scale model of a baby rabbit. 
BMW slippers.    
All-year-round head-to-toe-waterproof running man. 
Farting loudly by the turnips. 
Carrying things out within the usual framework. 
Stuffing a punctured leather football over your tow-bar. 
Bobbing over when she gets back. 
Avoiding the giant fat ceramic blue tit. 
Talking to yourself in a scouse accent. 
Lapwings, fieldfares, a moorhen, a buzzard, three plastic herons and two dozen bottles of Budweiser.
A half-sized resin statue of a horse.
Girls in leggings, texting.
A big picture window at the front that looks out onto your neighbour's Mitsubishi Animal. 
A lettuce.
Adjusting your cock. 
Predominantly black lycra. 
Eating some shat-out berries on top of a gate post. 
Following a large hare for about fifty yards. 
A pantomime maggot. 
Like To Get To Know You Well by Howard Jones. 
Wheeling a broken swivel chair out to your bins. 
Making a noise like a sheep. 
Power walking: C’mon! Put you arms into it! POWER WALK! 
Another headless pigeon corpse. 
Having a fucking word with yourself. 
Disembodied hands. 
The Most Luxurious Club In The North. 
Shouting into the phone in Urdu. 
The severed head of a stone tortoise.  
Zumba, Yoga for Pregnancy and a Craft Workshop. 
Distracting a rat. 
'Value' pregnancy testing. 
Bootses. 
Wearing a green dressing gown in lieu of a coat. 
Wearing a stab vest.
Jamie’s Italy. 

Sunday, 23 December 2012

At 5.30am, I distracted a rat as it sped across Church Lane.



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.

Surrounded by over-flowing 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 and an unruly jasmine litter trap – incorporating energy drink cans, a plastic elbow pipe fitting and an empty children's bubble mixture bottle – the door 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...



“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; 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.
Later, in the supermarket, when the elderly woman with the grey Summer Wine perm said she’d been drinking a lot of tea recently, the younger woman in the quilted jacket told her it didn’t matter.

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?”
“I don’t know. Why don’t you open it and find out?” said a man.
The door opened and a young woman with a long fringe, a quarter length fur coat and skinny jeans stood in the doorway smoking. An older man in a grey sweatshirt with some paint on it stood behind her. Before I had chance to speak, two Cairn terriers rushed, snapping and yelping out from between their feet and began nipping my ankles. “They’re biting him!” said the woman, surprised.
“Well, stop them then!” said the man with some urgency, “Grab them!” She didn’t move, conceding only to hold her cigarette out of harms way. I danced around a bit and eventually stepped backwards over the low gate to safety, kicking off the dogs from my trouser legs as I went.

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...



I set off against the weather. The wind was thrashing the trees and, in Wolfstones Road, 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 so when he answered, 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-track-suit-top-with-white-bits-on. 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 St James Road has been runover again



The illuminated bollard in the middle of St James Road 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 number 13 but is number 11a instead, the man with the big overcoat that restricts his movement, reversed 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 then 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-bits-on 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 on my 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.



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-bits-on. 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”, said the woman restraining the 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 was loaded up with three Jack Fulton bags of birdseed.



6.30am 
The woman who feeds the pigeons by the open market was loaded up with three Jack Fulton bags of birdseed. She hid in the shadow of the architrave in the doorway of the lap dancing club until the man on the ride-on street sweeping machine had disappeared behind The Christian Fellowship building.

9am 
In the big new houses at Stile village, a drunk sounding woman was singing a repertoire of contemporary pop songs at high volume from an open first floor window.

10.30am
On the driveway at Shangri-La, I was stung by a wasp on the back of my neck.

11.30am 
A window cleaner shouted down from his ladders “Lovely morning!” 
I agreed.
“What time do you finish?”
“Twenty-past-one, officially. Half-two in reality.” I said.
“Aye, them at t’ bottom do more and more so’s them at t’ top can do less and less. It’s always been the way, lad. Lovely morning though. Keep smiling.”

11.45am
I spent five minutes searching for my van keys before I realised they were in my hand.

Friday, 12 October 2012

On the estate where pretend owls outnumber the human population by two to one...



On the estate where pretend owls outnumber the human population by two to one, a woman was tending her plastic window boxes. She wore 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 etc. The poodle startled the sparrows from the beech hedge and made me jump. I nearly tripped over the top half of a woman with no arms. 

At 11.45am a man with mashed potato and lamb mince down the front of his shirt opened his window to give me directions even though I wasn’t lost. Next door, a woman with a summer-wine perm and a grey cardigan answered. Her mouth was full and there was quite a large piece of flaky pastry stuck to her cheek, “Honkfs Flhuph” she said, as I handed her her parcel. 

At the house that always smells of dog piss and stale cigarettes, an old man opened the window to take his mail. “You’re looking very smart in your uniform today, sir” he said, “Good for you, sir. Good for you.”

I crossed the rec’, adding another trail of footprints in the dew. A woman in a pink fleece jacket threw a blue ball with an orange launcher for her Jack Russell terrier, Muff, to fetch.

“More rubbish!”, said the man at number fourteen as he saw 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”, said his wife from her plastic patio chair. She was thumbing through a magazine and smoking a cigarette.
“Aye,” said 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” said the woman, winking at me.

The weather had turned when the short, rotund woman with the russet dyed almost grown out perm, grey roots and purple anorak was sheltering under her blown inside-out umbrella at the bus-stop. “In’t it awful weather!” she shouted across the road. I agreed.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

On the post box outside the pub where Eeezi Goin’ are playing on Thursday night...



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 at the top of her voice in Urdu 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

Two black labradors were barking at each other from opposite sides of the street



Two black labradors were barking at each other from opposite sides of the street while their owners conducted a loud conversation about black labradors above the noise.

On the way up to The Old Hall, I disturbed a heron. I'd thought it was one of those plastic ones until it flapped around in a panic and took off. As I walked back down the drive, I heard a rustling noise in the trees above me. I looked up in time to avoid a squirrel as it lost its grip and fell, landing with a surprisingly load slap on the tarmac. It looked at me, startled, and set off across the lawn.

At The Lodge, the dog had shat in its food bowl.

A man in a white Transit van with a sheep’s skull fastened to its radiator and a crude depiction of an ejaculating penis in the dirt across its back doors, stopped to ask me for directions to Bradley farm. I told him to turn right just after Redgates, “You can’t miss it," I said, "it’s got massive red gates”.
When I arrived at Redgates, a half hour later, the distinctive gates had gone, replaced by some temporary safety barriers. I asked the owner what had happened. “They’re in the garage”, he said, “It’s been so wet recently, I took them off for re-painting—to give the gardeners something to do, otherwise they’ll sit around drinking fucking tea all day.

On my way home, I called in at the shop. Two young women came in after me, followed by a small, slightly greasy looking man in a shiny old bomber jacket. I took my things to the man at the till—the Asian bloke with the greying bob and pencil moustache. As he checked out my stuff, the bomber jacket man walked behind me and out of the shop without buying anything. The till man glanced up and watched him out of the door, "There's some odd characters around" he said.
“Did he just walk out without paying?” I asked.
“No,” said the till man “I think he just saw those girls and followed them in for a closer look.”
“No way!” I said, incredulously.
The till man laughed and said—a bit louder than he’d intended—“I know! There’s some fucking sad bastards around here in’t there!” and he slapped his palm across his mouth, looking sideways to check there were no other customers within earshot.

Things people said by way of a greeting today:

A woman in the middle of washing her hair: “Oh dear.”
A man wearing ear defenders and three days of stubble: “Alright?”
A man wearing a football kit to lay a patio: “Hello.”
A thin man with unruly grey hair, an unkempt full beard and very clean new trainers: “Ayups!”
A man in a North Face fleece: “Oh, hiya there!”
A man wearing yellow gloves to push a wheelbarrow: “Morning!”
A slim, grey haired woman restraining a black labrador: “Hellooo! He’s a big softy.”
A man of a similar age to me wearing a hooded top and tartan shorts: “Hi lad.”
A very pale old man in a grey sweatshirt: “I have a lot of things wrong with me, but I’m not deaf.” (After I’d knocked loudly at his door).
A man in a ski jacket and hat said nothing but raised his eyebrows and smiled.
The bald man in the Fair Isle sweater said nothing and made no discernible acknowledgement of my presence, even when I said hello to him and handed him his mail. 
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

Shortlisted for the Blog North Awards

This blog has been shortlisted for the Blog North Awards for Best Writing. This is a good thing, I think. Public voting will be tallied with the choices of the judging panel so, if you have a minute and the inclination to vote and/or spread the word I'd appreciate it. Here's a direct link to the voting page. I'm also reading at the... um... ceremony (Oct 17th at the Deaf Institute in Manchester) so, should anybody want to come and watch me mumble and look awkward in public you can for just £6! (further details at blognorthawards.com)

Also, while I'm here, There is a facebook page for The Most Difficult Thing Ever at http://goo.gl/aLXkH

Thanks. 

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:
http://www.blognorthawards.com/vote

Thursday, 13 September 2012

I woke up early because every car on our street had been smashed up and broken into...



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.

I was following a man carrying an overloaded Sainsbury’s bag into town. At the bottom of Gashouse Lane he wandered into the middle of the road and stooped to inspect a discarded Richmond Superkings packet. When he realised it was empty, he booted it across the road and continued on his way, rounding the corner under the railway bridge. As the Superking man disappeared from view, beard-on-beard-off man appeared, striding purposefully in the opposite direction whilst making a noise like a sheep.

I passed an old classmate in the street. I haven’t seen him for about twenty years. “Ayup, how are you doing?” I said, reaching out to shake his hand.
“Not so bad” he said, and he pulled on his cigarette and carried on walking.

In the road by the school, the PE class were on a cross country run. The sturdily built teacher with her hair in a bun and white polo shirt tucked into black tracksuit trousers was berating the half a dozen chubby stragglers; “Power walk, C’mon! Put you arms into it! POWER WALK!

A white Transit van pulled up next me. The driver leant across and wound down the window. “Mate!” he yelled, “Which way is it back to where I just was?”

The man at number one Wood Bank Lane has sprayed his letter box gold. I posted his mail and, as I turned to walk back up the path, a sparrow flew into the back of my leg.

It’s been a few years since the last one, but I saw another headless pigeon corpse today.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

On the way into work, I followed a man wrapped in a pink Winnie the Pooh duvet down Stanley Road.



On the way into work, I followed a man wrapped in a pink Winnie the Pooh duvet along Stanley 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. 

Arranged on the pavement outside the roller-shutter doors at the open market, were six candles burning in highball glasses where a victim of the “mass brawl” on Bank Holiday Monday had been found.

On the bus, I’d assumed the old woman next to me was talking to herself, but it turned out she was commenting on the weather to me. I apologised and agreed that it had “felt a bit cooler of late”. Suddenly, the man wearing the tracksuit and holding a half-length mirror a few seats in front of us started ranting at nobody in particular. Most of what he was shouting was incoherent, but the phrases “Make an appointment to see yourself!” and “Have a fucking word with yourself!” were conspicuous. I exchanged a glance with the old woman and she raised her eyebrows and bit her bottom lip. When the man got off a few stops later, the old woman said she’d “seen it all now”.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The sun is out and the streets are filled with girls in leggings, texting.



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 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 packed with rubble and bits of old pallet, the weight of which had lowered the car’s suspension considerably. 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 Howarth 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 to “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...



The man in his sixties with the faded Just Beachin’ T-shirt – featuring 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-viz vests who were walking past. “Hiya lads”, he said with a small wave. “Ayup”, said the tallest of the hi-viz 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 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...



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. 
“Still?” said the old man, rolling his eyes.
The woman nodded, “I know! After all this time”.
The man waved a walking stick towards the shop entrance and said, “It’s a bit of a walk down there”. 
“I’ll go”, said the woman, “What do you want?”
“A lettuce”, said the man.
A heron flew over Shangri-La, a blackbird picked up a sun-baked slug and bounced it on the driveway at Orchard House and, at Green Side, where the man with the pick-axe said he’d be OK as long as it stayed dry, a Robin was eating some shat-out berries on top of a gate post.
Ernest says his new puppy hasn’t been a bit of bother.

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”.

The PA system at the toyshop was playing Horny by Mousse T. 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...



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. 
In a driveway 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 etc – 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 Like To Get To Know You Well by Howard Jones. Eventually, the owner of the house came 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 6am, my neighbour slammed his front door and shouted “Bastard!” at the top of his voice.
At 6.30am In Northumberland Street, two young women were lying on their backs in the middle of the road, singing.
At 12.20pm in Church Street I saw a man in a heavy beige anorak – it was 23°C. He also wore two mansize tissues under the arms of his spectacles like large white blinkers.
At 2.30pm at the farm, the barbed wire fence was hung with clumps of snagged wool, the horse that was wearing the blanket kicked the one that wasn’t in the face and the two Border Terriers barked hysterically, almost throttling themselves on their chains. A swallow flew low over a dry stone wall, skilfully avoiding a collision with the giant fat ceramic blue tit which is fastened to the top of the gate post with a big blob of cement, while the farmer told me his neighbour is a lazy cunt.
At 3pm, while I was on my way home, I think the woman with the thick dark hair, glasses and the jumper round her waist heard me talking to myself in a Scouse accent.

Friday, 15 June 2012

I pulled up too far from the control unit for the entry barrier...



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."
"I know" said the man," there was no heated seat, no cd player nor nowt!"

The woman at one of the barn conversions on the moor has pressed her old aerobics step into use as a stand to display her houseplants on. She has created a two tiered tableau in the big picture window at the front that looks out onto her neighbour's Mitsubishi Animal. Next door, where the garden backs onto acres of idyllic rolling countryside as far as the eye can see, Mrs Moorhouse was pedalling determinedly on the exercise bike she'd rigged up in her garage.

Two window cleaners were talking as they dripped suds from their Bedford Rascal to the the houses on the estate. "They were good sarnies this morning, you know", said the smaller, thinner, younger of the two who was carrying a bucket and some ladders.
"I still would rather have had a breakfast" said the taller, fatter, older one who was carrying the van keys.
"I know what your saying", said the younger one.

I knocked at a house with a parcel. I was about to give up waiting when I heard some fumbling around with keys behind the door. After a couple of failed attempts to unlock it, all fell silent again for another minute or so until the occupier returned with what I assumed to be another set of keys. This time, after another couple of attempts, the door finally swung open to reveal a man with his hair all stuck up on one one side and a blue toweling robe. "Sorry, I was in bed" he said, squinting at the sun. It was then that I looked down at the parcel and realised it was for the house next door.

Dozens of swallows were swooping after flies in the field behind the school until I got my phone out to film them, then they stopped.

*the moth was inside a packet of Coco-Pops.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

At the house with the sign on the gate that says ‘My Doberman lives here’


At the house with sign on the gate that says ‘My Doberman lives here’ above a picture of a Doberman’s head and a hand holding a torch, I stood on a snail as a helicopter flew over. On the window sill with the dead moths there was a money tree plant, a single white sock, a dusty snooker trophy and a TDK D90 audio cassette – still in its packaging. When I knocked at the door a man with tattoo sleeves answered and said “It’s awkward when you can’t see your own writing” as he filled in his signature.
I was about to get back into my van after failing to deliver a parcel when I noticed people at home at the house next door. I went to ask whether they’d take the parcel for their neighbour and a young man in a vest and jogging pants answered. He agreed to take the parcel and said “Are they trainers?” I said I didn’t know. “I might try them on” he said, winking, then he put his hand down the front of his trousers, adjusted his cock and shut the door.
I found an onion ring in the back of my van. I don’t know how it got there.
I overheard two men talking on the bus:
“Have you ever murdered anyone, Carl?”
“No, I haven’t, Jim.”
“No, me neither.”

A snail crawled 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 of a house with a parceI, but nobody came.


I knocked at the door of a house with a parceI, 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, right; 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...

  

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.
When I got to work, a group discussion about sandwich filling preferences was taking place. I suggested to Debbie she might try peanut butter and cucumber but she said she couldn’t because she doesn’t like ‘sweet and sour stuff’.
10am: 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 the door and, once again, the man didn’t move; he was asleep as well. Eventually (another two doors down) somebody answered their door; 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, in head-to-toe beige, her, in head-to-toe pale lavender, both with reactolite glasses in full anti-glare bloom. “Anything exciting for us!” shouted the lavender lady as I got out. “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!”
According to the poster on the lamp-post, the cat with the bit of tinsel around its neck is still missing.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The Most Difficult Thing Ever will soon be available in print...

The Most Difficult Thing Ever will soon be available in print from the Victory Garden website. A 'launch' and reading will form part of the preview of The Most Difficult Thing Ever exhibition at Cow Lane Studios, Salford: 6-9pm May 11th 2012

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

I was walking a few paces behind beard on/beard off man...


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.
A man in black-track-suit-bottoms-with-white-bits-on told me to fuck off when he realised I’d seen him talking to himself.
A jogger with an ipod and a lightweight windcheater passed me as I approached the house with the massive Audi on the drive and the plastic snowdrops in three miniature galvanised buckets on the doorstep. I was about to knock at the door when the occupier, a woman wearing a black quilted jacket, pulled onto the drive in a new Mini. “How’s that for timing?” She said as she got out of the car. I suggested she must have some kind of sixth sense that tells her when the post is going to arrive and she said “Yep, I’m psychedelic me”.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

My neighbour keeps free range rabbits, chickens and guinea fowl.



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 doesn’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-viz 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 takeaways. 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 – 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...




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 the rush to be time efficient 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 stood 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 stood in the road where four children of between about six and nine years old were being encouraged to pelt it with sticks and small stones from a distance of about two metres by another man who, with his buck teeth and moustache had a look of Freddie Mercury. 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 curb. 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 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.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

On my way into work I passed a man I often see around...




On my way into work I passed a man I often see around. He never speaks to me but he once held open the door at the Co-op – and he’ll sometimes nod stiffly in my direction. On this occasion though, he ignored me completely. 
In the park I saw the chubby man with the sort of comb-over hair, he was with his black labrador, John. 
I paused on Fitzwilliam Street to swap a woollen hat for a peaked cap and the man with pointy shoes, short tippy-tappy strides and a Liverpool FC plastic carrier bag overtook me as a Suzuki Swift killed a pigeon at the traffic lights.
On the estate of barely detached houses with the mainly new, mainly black, mainly German cars. I went to number three – where the mini with ‘Maureen’ written on it was parked in the driveway. I waited on the front step next to a scale model of a baby rabbit and the doormat which has ‘NICE TO SEE YOU, TO SEE YOU NICE’ written on it. Next door, a man in a suit and dark glasses paused whilst unlocking the door of his BMW. He glanced over to me across his plastic lawn and said “Anything for numero uno before I head off?” I said there wasn’t. Eventually the door of number three opened and a thin man in his sixties with a dressing gown open to the waist smiled and said “Good morning sir!” I smiled back and handed him his package “Yes. Thank you! Thanks a lot. Ta, thank you thank you” he said.

Also today, I heard some men playing the bagpipes on the ring-road and an owl.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Mr Simpson gave me a lift to work in his new car...



Mr Simpson gave me a lift to work in his new car with the de-mister that comes on when he – literally – tells it too. I told Julie about it at work and she said Mr Simpson has five sugars in his tea. 
This week’s wildlife of note:
A woodpecker, a jay, some lapwings, a lark, rabbits, deer, a dead fox, some chickens, up to two dozen black labradors, numerous koi carp and two plastic heron (one stood up and one lying down on its side)
The chickens at the farm were pecking at the dog's bone while the builders listened to People Are People by Depeche Mode on their heavy duty radio.
I couldn’t get up Hill Top because of the two rival dog walker’s vans that had parked to collect their charges from houses on opposite sides of the street.
Mr Briggs pulled up to tell me he’d just heard on the news that the cheapest petrol station in town is the Jet garage at Lockwood.
The woman in the trench coat asked “Is it going to make a nice day do you think?”
“I’m not sure but it’s looking good at the minute” I replied.
“I know, but will it last?” said the woman.
No Surprises by Radiohead has been going round my head all week. Today I think I worked out why; several of the door bell chimes on my delivery sound like the song’s opening two notes.