Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The blackbird was on the gates at the entrance to the park for the second day running


The blackbird I often see at the entrance to the park is perched on the gates for the second day running. It doesn’t fly away when I pass. It watches me. I walk within a couple of feet of it today and it doesn’t flinch.

The sun is out, the sky is blue. There is birdsong: sparrows, starlings, a woodpigeon. Somebody is playing a trumpet. A car pulls away from the kerb and its tyres crackle and pop on dry asphalt. A man of about fifty, wearing double denim and a black and white bandana tied around his head, is using the phone box that I’ve never really noticed before. 

There is horse shit in the road.

Further up the valley, there are boxy 1970s brick-built semis with white fascia boards that crack loudly in the sun. There are big picture windows. There are Astras, Minis, Astras, Beetles, Astras, Minis and Astras on uneven concrete and aubretia driveways. There are monolithic decapitated leylandii as big as houses. There are birch and willow, catkins and moss. There are two pieces of litter: an empty Muller Rice pot and a novelty shaped luminous yellow pencil eraser. There's a Union Jack and a Get Britain Out of the EU poster. There are silk flowers on the window sills. 
There are plastic lawns, footballs, grit bins. There are moneysavingexpert.com A4 print-outs blu-tacked to porch windows saying No Cold Callers. There are whistling Eddie Stobart collectors in T-shirts smoking Marlboro cigarettes on hard-standings. They build kit-cars and boats and take things to pieces. There’s the smell of machine oil. There’s the smell of cooking oil. There are chips. There are solid homemade repairs, gates and fences, washers and hinges, ironmongery, fixings and grease. There are guinea pigs in hutches and terriers on the backs of settees. Girls play at hopscotch and boys dress as superheroes while they mend punctures with holes in their knees.

A man insists I watch as he opens a parcel. Inside it, there is a small statuette of a blackbird perched on a twig.