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 is inspecting a discarded cigarette packet while a younger man, who is smoking weed and wearing headphones, does hundreds of keepie-uppies in the road.

On Easter Sunday some of the tenants of the flats had been kept awake until 1.30 a.m. by loud music according to the handwritten note pinned to the front door.

I see Jonny, he’s petting the beautiful Burmese cat in Warneford Road. He says he thinks it’s so fine looking it could probably win Crufts even though it isn’t a dog.

The gardens on the evens side of the estate are still under deep snow. At number 36, only the top of the wheelie bin with the sticker of the tropical beach scene on it is visible because of the drifting. Outside number 12, an uncomfortable looking grey-haired woman in an overcoat and Reactolite glasses is waiting at the bus stop with three drunks who are 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 asks me whether I’ve seen the bin men. "I’m seventy-six years old," she says, "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 hand her her mail: promotional material from Boots about health and beauty products that can ‘Supercharge Your Wellbeing.’ "I’ll not be needing that!" she says, "It’s going straight in the bin—if it’ll fit!"

On the main road, just down from the house called The Britvic at number 55, an elderly man with a pull-along shopping cart and thick plastic-rimmed glasses stops me.
"He’s mad, isn’t he?" he says.
"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 get back to the office my workmates are 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 ask me whether I remember him. I say I do, 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.