Saturday, 27 April 2013
Another bright, sunny morning. I followed the chubby bald fifty year old paper boy into the newsagent’s where the man with the intense stare tried to sell me some honey roasted peanuts. “You wanna try them”, he said without blinking, “They’re proper nice, they are”. I refused and, as I stepped outside it began to rain heavily as if from nowhere. The sky clouded over and the temperature dropped. I thought about going back and buying the nuts but the rain stopped just as suddenly as it had started. it stayed cold though; It was a full half hour before the Reactolite lenses of the people in fleece jackets went dark again.
Outside the church hall where I was once accused of smoking wacky baccy*at a wedding reception, the snow that had lined the kerb had given way to dried horse shit, tree litter and slug trails. Large men were walking small dogs and large women were talking at the bus stop: “I was supposed to be going to Diane’s but I can’t walk nowhere, I’m in agony”. One man’s heels were overhanging the back of his Crocs by about an inch and a half. Another man, who was having his lunch at 11.30am, remarked “Fucking hell, them Chinese give ‘emselves some right names, don’t they”
I walked up the ring road behind two young men in washed out tracksuits. The taller one, with his hood up, was walking a Staffordshire bull terrier on a lead. His swagger was so pronounced that he eventually built up too much sideways momentum and stumbled, nearly tripping over. To cover his embarrassment, he began a vigorous air punching workout which resulted in his dog being yanked violently sideways with every right jab. The other man wasn’t paying attention to his companion, he had half his arm down the back of his tracksuit pants and was scratching his arse while he wolf whistled at the girl in dark glasses walking down the other side of the road.
*I was only smoking a roll-up.
Wednesday, 17 April 2013
"Why would anyone want to punch a police horse?" asked the man on the bus, glancing up from his paper. I said I didn't know.
In Primitive Street, a gust of wind blew an empty lager can from one kerb to the other while two drunks were discussing the whereabouts of Jade. "Where is she?" asked the one in the faded blue anorak with the saggy pockets.
"I don't know" said the other, "she spat in my face about two years ago".
A woman in her fifties wearing a T-shirt with a skull motif on it almost fell as she got out of the back of a VW Golf before it had stopped. "Oh, yeah! Just reverse over me why don't you!" she yelled at the driver before running across the road and and slipping over on her greasy Yorkstone path. "Grrr! I'm having a really bad day!" she shouted as she got back on her feet rubbing her hip. She opened her front door and a very excited terrier shot out and ran off down the street before she could stop it. "Now the dog's got out!"
Out on the new estate: Fake-sandstone beige and UPVC white with accents of grit-bin/Cold-Caller-Control-Zone-sticker yellow. The background noise of burglar alarms, wind-chimes, squabbling blackbirds, the distant shouts of a PE teacher and that weird clanging from the insides of swaying metal street lamps is occasionally drowned out by the engine of the JCB whose driver is concentrating so hard that his tongue is poking out. The fake ornamental bay trees have blown over onto the plastic lawn where the high-pitched cat deterrent is constantly being triggered by the swirling leaves and swaying daffodils. There are sea urchins and highly glazed period folk on the windowsills and solar panels on the roofs. And there are dogs; people without shoes open doors whilst holding dogs by the collar. There are unencumbered and very determined grey haired men in navy blue fleeces who pound the streets. Teeth gritted, they march up hills, arms outstretched for extra balance along the uneven nascent desire lines. They sweep past the stalled mums with their hoods up against the drizzle, pushchairs and retrievers in one hand, they reach out for their straggling toddlers with the other.
I've seen waxwings and swallows within a week of each other.
Sunday, 7 April 2013
In the street that smells of meat, the man who looks like my old headmaster was inspecting a discarded cigarette packet...
In the street that smells of meat, the man who looks like my old headmaster was inspecting a discarded cigarette packet while a younger man, who was smoking weed and wearing headphones, did hundreds of keepie-uppies in the road.
On Easter Sunday some of the tenants of the flats had been kept awake until 1.30am by loud music according to the handwritten note pinned to the front door.
I saw Jonny, he was petting the beautiful Burmese cat in Warneford Road. He said he thought it was so fine looking it could probably win Crufts even though it isn’t a dog.
The gardens on the evens side of Woodside View are still under a foot of snow. Only the top of the wheelie bin with the sticker of the tropical beach scene on it at No.36 is visible because of the drifting. Outside No.12, an uncomfortable looking grey-haired woman in an overcoat and Reactolite glasses was waiting at the bus stop with three drunks who were arguing over a bottle of White Lightning.
Further down, at the house with the threadbare Union-Jack doormat, an elderly woman with a tomato stain on her beige duffle coat asked me whether I’d seen the bin men. "I’m seventy-six years old," she said, "They shouldn’t do this to me. It’s upsetting. I put it out and they’ve missed me again!" I told the woman I hadn’t seen the bin men, just the Wheelie Wash man who comes along in their wake. I handed her her mail, some promotional material from Boots about health and beauty products that can ‘Supercharge your wellbeing’. "I’ll not be needing that!" she said, "It’s going straight in the bin—if it’ll fit!"
On the main road, just down from the house called The Britvic at No.55, an elderly man with a pull-along shopping cart and thick plastic-rimmed glasses stopped me as I passed.
"He’s mad, isn’t he?" he said.
"Who?" I asked.
"That silly man from the government who says we can live on £53 a week. I think he must be bloody mental! And that footballer. They’ve all gone bloody mental!"
When I got back to the office my workmates were reminiscing about a retired colleague who once reversed his van into his own car, touched up the damage with Dulux, and then drove to Blackpool to “dry it off”. They asked me whether I remembered him. I said I did but our shifts hadn’t overlapped. I used to cycle home in my trainers, so I’d leave my work boots at the office overnight where, unknown to me, for several years, he wore them for the duration of his night shift, replacing them before I arrived for work again the next morning.