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. A 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, “Hankfs 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 No.14 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.