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!”