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.