Sunday 19 January 2014

A grey Vauxhall Zafira pulled up on the canal bank next to the narrowboat with the big spotlights

A grey Vauxhall Zafira pulls up on the canal bank next to the narrowboat with the big spotlights—just down from where they pulled the dead paedophile out of the water in the Christmas holidays. A man gets out and sweeps half a dozen McDonalds take-out cups from the footwell and onto the towpath. He brushes crumbs from his fleece jacket and boot-cut jeans, stretches, gets back into the car and drives away.

The shadows of the people in the bus queue are long. The man I used to think looked too young to smoke a pipe is there, smoking a pipe. He doesn’t look too young anymore. On the wall beside the shelter, someone has written ‘I know’ with a marker pen.

Hundreds of geese fly over in a noisy quarter-mile ‘V’ formation. The white UPVC front door of the house opposite opens, the one with the fake leaded lights in the shape of a Yorkshire rose, and Mr Mohammed steps outside in salwar kameez and sandals. He stands next to the soggy carpet in his front yard and looks up at the birds, shielding his eyes from the sun. Next door, the man in the torn gilet and jeans has also heard the noise and comes outside. He leans on his door frame holding a mug of tea in one hand, shielding his eyes with the other, his digestive biscuit held between his teeth. The two men stare up at the birds until they’ve all passed, briefly acknowledge one another and then go back inside, closing their front doors in unison.