Outside the flats, two men in their late 60s—fleece jackets, woolly hats—were discussing RSJs, purlins and caustic soda. They were with a woman of a similar age. She was wearing large spectacles, red lipstick, and a well-padded, snug-fitting gilet.
A tall man with a shaved head stopped me in the street and said, ‘Have you noticed them?’ He freed up his right hand by consolidating all his Argos bags into his left, and pointed at the sky.
‘What?’ I said.
‘Them,’ said the man, and pointed again.
‘The vapour trails?’ I said.
‘Yes. They’re not normal,’ he said. ‘Look at them. Look at the criss-crossing and the angle. They shouldn’t be at that angle.’ The man lined up his hand with one of the plumy trails, squinting across it with one eye closed to get a more accurate gauge. ‘They shouldn’t dissipate like that either. I’ve been doing some research; these aren’t civilian planes doing this, they are military. I’ve got software that tells me where all your British Airways, Virgin, Ryanair… all the Manchester airport stuff should be, but these planes never show up. I’ve noticed them a lot over Huddersfield recently.’
‘What are they doing?’ I asked.
‘Spraying chemicals,’ he said.
‘I don’t know. If I told you what I think they’re doing it for, you’d think I was some kind of nutter.’ He smiled and re-distributed his Argos bags. He told me he couldn’t say any more because he had to go, and he legged it across the street shouting, ‘Just look up “Chemtrails” on Google. See you, mate!’
At the farm, Howard held up a letter to show me. Printed on the envelope it said: Give Blood – Donor Survey. Howard lowered his brow and growled ‘Survey, my arse! I’ll give ’em a bloody survey through the sights of my bloody rifle!’ On the way out of the yard I slipped on a pool of frozen dog piss.
Birds: Jay, Buzzard, Treecreeper, heron, pheasants.