6.15am: Dancers and bouncers share jokes and cigarettes outside the strip club. The dancers are wearing their ‘standing outside’ uniform: white faux-mink coats, suspenders and heels. The bouncers wear black suits and patent shoes.
The man behind me on the bus to the hospital has a loud hacking cough. I get off where a group of builders with hard hats over their hoods are smoking in a huddle outside the house with the empty Cheese Curls packet and pile of dog shit underneath the trampoline in the yard.
There’s a lot of rotten pre-recession Ground Force decking around here and it’s slippery and treacherous at this time of year; the old man with butter on his nose advised me to watch myself after I slipped on his.
In the street, a young man with a shaved head and tracksuit is vacuuming his brand new Vauxhall Corsa while he listens to Robbie Williams quite loudly.
Out in the sticks, beyond where the remains of the smashed up traffic cone have been strewn across the road for weeks. Beyond even where the empty breakfast bowl and spoon have been left on top of the dry-stone wall a half mile from the nearest house (It’s been there for several days and there’s an inch-and-a-half of rainwater in the bowl now), a low mist is sitting in the valley bottom. The grey road is accented with orange cherry leaves and a large flock of fieldfares is messily stripping out all the berries from a big rowan tree.
On the driveway at Oakwood, a man of about thirty-five, with a beard and donkey jacket, has his head under the bonnet of his thirty-year-old Saab 900 while he listens to Talking Heads quite loudly.