Tuesday 5 February 2013

6am: I walked through the park in a blizzard with a man with bow-legged wellingtons...

6am: I walk through the park in a blizzard alongside a bow-legged man in wellingtons. His head is bare and he has an unusual yellow overcoat. His name is Patrick and he’s off to Tesco’s. I comment on the snow and Patrick says he’ll be glad when it’s gone, “I bloody fell at the bins the other day, didn’t I? I was taking the rubbish out one minute, and the next I was flat on my back in the bloody snow. They say there’s more in the offing and all. I’m bloody sick of it”. Patrick says he doesn’t envy me my job in this weather. “I bet they pay you fuck all, and all” he says. “I spent twenty years working at the hospital between 1975 and 1979 but now I don’t bother because it’s not worth it.”

The cats in Heaton Gardens make noises like stricken toddlers.

Lots of pheasants today. Most are padding aimlessly around the verges of the farm tracks, but one was prone across Mr Etchell’s knee on an old bentwood chair in the corner of his garage, being plucked.

The woman in the red Ford Fiesta has a large antique mantel clock on her knee. She winds down her window to ask whether I have a parcel for her. When I tell her I haven’t, she says that according to the website the parcel was delivered last Friday despite the fact she only ordered it yesterday. “Maybe there’s a hole in the space-time continuum?” I suggest. “No, I think they must have given me the wrong tracking number” says the woman.

It’s snowing heavily again and the farmyard is littered with dead teasels and broken plastic safety barriers. The filthy collie strains at the chain that tethers it to its dirty white plastic igloo kennel. In the lane, a metallic blue 4x4 BMW nearly hits me outside the house where the elderly Over 60s Club volunteer sisters live—with the Support the Lifeboats and Help for Heroes stickers in the window: “She reckons we should go down and open up but they’ll not venture out in this, not them that’s in their eighties!”

On the bus, the man in his sixties asks the man in his twenties whether he’s “Off down The Royal Oak to watch the United game”. “I thought they’d turned The Oak into a mosque.” “No, they knocked that idea on the head in the end.” “Well, it was never right popular when they mooted it.”