Sunday 23 September 2012

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

Two black Labradors bark at each other from opposite sides of the street while their owners conduct a loud conversation about black Labradors above the noise.

On the way up to the manor house, 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 has 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 stops to ask me for directions to the farm. I tell him to turn right just after Redgates, “You can’t miss it”, I say, “it’s got massive green gates”. When I arrive at Redgates myself, a half hour or so later, the distinctive gates have gone, replaced by some temporary safety barriers. I ask the owner what has happened. “They’re in the garage”, he says, “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 short man in a shiny old bomber jacket. I took my things to the man at the tillthe Asian one with the greying bob and pencil moustacheand, 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

Also, while I'm here, There is a facebook page for The Most Difficult Thing Ever at


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...

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 Fitzwilliam Street 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. “Hi, 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 No.1 has sprayed his letter box gold in honour of the Olympic Games. 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 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. 

Arranged on the pavement outside the roller-shutter doors of 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.