Monday, 25 November 2013

At the entrance to the park, the shaggy Border collie called Chicken was being restrained by its owner…

At the entrance to the park, a shaggy Border collie called Chicken is being restrained by its owner: “No, Chicken! Leave it! Chicken! No!” 
Around the corner at the house with the new pattern imprinted concrete driveway, I eventually realise that the large polished red and white streaked calcite sphere on the window sill isn’t the back of the head of an elderly man with a ruddy complexion and a wispy white comb-over, and I stop trying to attract its attention. 

Back in town, an enormous man driving a Mini passes me as I walk under the stalactites that hang from the arch of the railway bridge. He clatters noisily over the steel road plates that cover the pothole at the entrance to Tesco’s car park, parks across two spaces and hoists himself out by grabbing the door frame with both hands.

The golf pro’ with the Hoxton fin cranes his neck to watch the small yellow aeroplane from the nearby airfield as it flies low overhead. 
At one of the houses that backs onto the green, a thin bald man in a fleece jacket and faded jeans is carefully stencilling the names Brian and Susan onto the back rest of a wooden bench in a swirly gold font. I pass him as he’s admiring his work. He glances up and waves briefly before walking up the gravel path, past the little tableau on the lawn: a stone tortoise apparently engaged in combat with a tiny plastic second world war infantryman that has been painted white. At the entrance to the conservatory, the man places his unlit roll-up on the window sill, kicks off his boots and disappears inside behind a bookcase of faded hardback autobiography spines: Botham, Clough, Greavsie …

Saturday, 9 November 2013

I knocked at a house on the estate of Range Rovers and shop bought topiary

I knocked at a door on the estate of Range Rovers and shop bought topiary, where the fake cobblestones still have their barcodes stuck to them. Inside the house a dog barked enthusiastically while a woman implored it to “Stay in there, you!” Eventually, the door shuddered open to reveal the woman in a Fair Isle onesie, holding the dog by its collar. “He’s just bloody humped the gas man,” she explained, “I’m not letting him near you!”

It’s quiet around here among the lawns, the winter flowering pansies, the lavender, and the leylandii. There are more tradesmens' vans than residents’ cars during the day. Occasionally, a disembodied arm extends from an open window to shake crumbs from a tea towel or an immaculate twelve year old Nissan Primera reverses slowly from a driveway. On the pavement outside the pebble-dashed inter-war bungalow with the rotten timber frames and the dangerous chimneys, a cat is fighting with a marigold glove. Further down, where the three empty cider bottles have been left in a neat row under the hawthorn, an elderly man hobbles by in a threadbare camel-hair coat secured at the waist with packing tape. In the gutter, a light breeze fans the pages of a discarded Max Hastings novel and, at the bottom of the cul-de-sac, an old woman bends to pick up a Virgin Media flyer from her doormat, “Red hot sale!” she says, rolling her eyes, “That’s going straight in the bin! I don’t even believe in Richard Branson!”