Sunday 27 December 2015

2015 Highlights

2015 Highlights

Karaoke Thursdays
Sambuca Saturdays
Vaping outside the Costcutter
Finding One Direction perfume for under a tenner: not to be sniffed at
Kicking decorative spars back behind the concrete rope-edging with the toe end of your boot
Hoping Michael’s not lying dead behind the hedge
Exhaling a long thin wisp of white smoke vertically up and over Lockwood Taxis
Drawing a half-arsed cock-and-balls on the postman’s pouch box
Approximately Doric architraves
Plastic lawns
Remembering Stumpy
1980s heavy metal on heavy duty radios
Leaving a trail of weed smoke from a Toyota Yaris
Leaving a trail of aftershave from a Porsche 4x4
Polythene: flapping and cracking in broken trees
Often wearing a bathrobe to shout at a dog
Carrying Margaret on your shoulders
Gin and slim and Probably the Best Fish Supper in Town
Holding your new toilet seat under your arm while you argue about parking spaces with a man with ketchup on his face
Not giving a shit about anything other than your fags and your phone
Hoovering your driveway
Comparing your experiences of electrocardiography
Watering down your Fruit Shoot
Lifting out dandelions
Soft toy trophy lynchings
Asserting that steam railways make life worth living
Waving an enormous arm in the vague direction of half of Huddersfield
The underlying murmur of people in tight shorts commenting on the warm weather
Shuffling past a pile of dried dog shit in your open-toed sandals
Strapping an office chair and a postcard display rack to the roof of your KIA Rio
Listening to Lessons in Love by Level 42 through discreetly mounted speakers at quite a high volume
Soberly dressed men drinking extra strength lager
Mainly discussing caravans, caravan based holidays, and the football transfer window
The smaller, less cocksure, banana and ketchup stained promotional air-dancers they used to have outside the Fiat garage when it was a Peugeot one
Smeared dog shit and the sandwich packaging
Spreading solvent with a yard brush
Retiring to make chainsaw carvings of owls to sell at country art fairs
Begging to differ with the woman with the bag for life
Seasonal Ugg boot Cleaning Services
Explaining that you could NEVER eat Weetabix without sugar
Larger-than-life-sized white-stick-defying pedestal-mounted Clear Channel hoardings
Being overtaken by an empty packet of Lambert & Butler and an energy drink can
Wearing your anorak indoors
Wearing your bathrobe to the shop that sells dusty bottles of Mateus Rosé, Lion Bars, Bisto Gravy Granules, and Andrex Toilet Tissue
Not really doing wine
Checking nobody needs a wee

Sunday 13 December 2015

It's bin day and the low sun casts long stripes of wheelie-bin shadow across the road

Bin day. The low sun casts long stripes of wheelie bin shadow across the road as I drive into the village. I park up and walk across the luxurious carpet of vivid green moss to Village Food & Wine: pet bedding and dried dog food systems on display underneath a tatty awning. Inside the shop, the counter is littered with the presentation gift boxes first inspected and then dismissed by the thin, middle-aged woman in the three-quarter length anorak with the muddy hem. “No, they’ve all got chocolate in, she’ll not eat chocolate”, she says. The proprietress, a thin middle-aged woman in a torn body warmer and jeans bends down behind the counter again, vocalising a strange involuntary exhalation as she stretches to the very back of the bottom shelf of the cabinet. “How about this?” she says, righting herself and then setting down a plastic gift box containing a small wine glass and an even smaller bottle of pinot grigio. “What is it?” says the customer, cleaning a stripe through the greasy dust that coats it with her thumb and wiping the residue on her bulging pocket. “It’s wine” explains the proprietress. “Is it dry?” “Yes, I think so.” “I don’t really do wine, what’s it like?” “Apparently it’s very nice, it’s what everyone has now.” “I’m not sure, I don’t really do wine.” “No, me neither, it makes me drunk.”

The sky clouds over and the rain starts. A squall flips up the horse shit in the road, flapping it about briefly before unsticking it from the asphalt and blowing it loose down towards the old vicarage where even the stone cat that I always mistake for a swan (the tail being the neck and head) has blown over.

Back in town at the corner shop, the proprietor is sitting on a stool behind the 
counter watching the small TV set balanced on top of a display of crisps. “Drug dealing” he mutters under his breath, then he looks up at me and says out loud, “Drug dealing. Is that all they’ve got to do in London?”

On my way home, I call at the supermarket for some milk and a packet of Mini Cheddars. Without looking up, the till woman scans my stuff and says “£1.60”. As I sort through my change she stands up, leans forward and shouts down the line of checkout staff, “DOES ANYBODY NEED A WEE?” I put a £2 coin in her hand. Her colleagues all look up and shake their heads. “RIGHT!” she says, “I’M GONNA BAIL OUT AFTER THIS ONE” and she nods briefly in my direction. “Thank you”, I say, but she’s gone.

Saturday 28 November 2015

Half-a-Dozen Crows, Definitely Crows, Pick at the Very Last Remains of a Dead Squirrel

Half a dozen crows, definitely crows, pick at the very last remains of a dead squirrel in a squall that knocks me sideways on the bridge over the ring road. 

Outside the closed down brothel, a young woman wearing only a long T-shirt and heels is in hushed discussion with a tall man in a big parka. 200 yards further along, the man with the tattooed neck stops suddenly, throws up on the pavement, wipes his mouth and continues on his way. I catch his eye as I pass him. It’s 3.30pm.

Earlier, the weather was calmer, a big feather duvet cloud was slumped over the valley head but the sky directly above was blue and still. In the leaf litter at the bottom of Mrs Brook’s drive a sparrowhawk was opening up a steaming kill and, in the field behind the road sign with the buddleja growing from it, a kestrel was hovering above the half blown away barn.

The Most Difficult Thing Ever on Facebook

Sunday 22 November 2015

The Starlings are Excitable and the Flats at Park Court still Smell of Piss

The starlings are excitable and the flats at Park Court still smell of piss. Outside, a man in jeans and a T-shirt is blowing smelly ginkgo leaves. He consolidates them into a neat pile, exposing again the small memorial stone dedicated to the dog named Mowgli and the fallen-over A-frame poster board advertising The Dana Ali Band’s next appearance at the Clothiers Arms.

There’s a man in a field shouting at livestock and the excitable starlings are ganging up in the near naked beech. Outside the big detached new build with the statue of the bulldog by the front door, the man on the vintage motorcycle is talking to the man with Cuprinol down his top, “I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that it stays mild,” he says. I’m not so worried, says the Cuprinol man “I’ve just had the van fixed and it’s running like a dream”.

The woman in the T-shirt with Porn Star written across it winces as she walks. She leans on the wall of her porch while she kicks off her muddy trainers and leaves them on the step. In the street outside, a small group of full hi-vis men are gathered around a hole in the ground. They are leaning on their tools and chatting: “He got to the middle of the field, dropped his kegs, did a shit and just carried on walking...”

In the garden of the big house there’s a man in an orange helmet with a perspex visor chopping down the leylandii. Outside, at the bus stop, the old woman with the belted herringbone coat and Marks & Spencer bag-for-life is complaining about this year’s I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. “When they showed the pictures, I thought, ‘I don’t know any of them!” then she adds, “It’s not worth going to the hairdresser’s when the weather is like this; I only went on Tuesday and it’s flat as a pancake already!”

There are old women in anoraks and gloves with small grey curly dogs that match their hairdos. They are on their way to the shop that sells dusty bottles of Mateus Rosé, Lion Bars, Bisto gravy granules, and Andrex toilet tissue. The excitable starlings compete with a car alarm and the farmer who is half in and and half out of his overalls closes his eyes as he reaches for the latch on the blind side of the gate.

Sunday 1 November 2015

Storm Drains Are Overflowing

Storm drains are overflowing. An empty packet of Lambert & Butler and an energy drink can overtake me in the swollen run-off channel at the side of the road.

In the big yellow cherry tree, starlings make noises like excited children on a coach trip.

A Jack Russell terrier escapes from the woman with the mid-calf length floral print pleated skirt and the summer wine perm, and chases the Land Rover as it reverses into the driveway. “Stupid bloody dog!” says the woman, “It’s his boss that’s come back. That’s what’s done it!” she explains.

The flats with the pretentious name smell like a swimming pool today.

The man in the long overcoat is reading a book and drinking White Star cider inside the phone box.

The man in the white 7.5-ton truck blows his horn at the man in the bright orange fleece jacket.

The boy of about eight in the passenger seat of a Ford Focus shouts “You fat bastard!” to the fat man at the cash machine.

The teenage boy with lots of tattoos and no shirt in late October scowls and sticks out his tongue at the little girl in the back seat of the brand new Audi.

Two young girls are in conversation. Girl on a pink Barbie bike with snot in her hair: “I’m going to my nan’s and granddad’s and me dad’s tekkin me”. Slightly older girl with bed head and pyjamas at one in the afternoon: “No you’re not cos he’s going scrap yard”.

Two women are in conversation. Woman with dyed black crop and striped jumper: “You off up to t’church?” Slouching woman with cigarette: “Not yet.” Woman with dyed black crop and striped jumper: “I thought you were off up now, I were getting stressed!”

The woman with the yellow teeth who wears her anorak indoors is shouting at her children. She doesn’t get on with the man next door who sits chain-smoking in his garden all day.

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Backlit, paper-diorama-skyline autumn morning

Backlit, paper-diorama-skyline autumn morning: headlights, streetlights, a pile of bakers’ trays outside the corner shop, students taking photos of leaves.

On the bus, the man in front of me said that café culture is wasted on him because he doesn't drink tea or coffee. He went on to explain that he could never eat Weetabix without sugar.

At the supermarket, the woman with the piercings and leggings is complaining because the Festive Yard of Scrumptious Jaffa Cakes Christmas Pack she’s bought “is just a long box with some normal packets of Jaffa Cakes inside”.

I turn the radio on and a woman is saying she left her son to get himself to university on his own because she had to go and visit her energy master in Bali. I turn it over and a man is singing the lyric “She maxed her credit cards and don’t got a job” to the tune of a Duran Duran song. I turn it off again.

The blind man with the green hi-vis coat and white stick is tip-tapping the high stone wall as he makes his way from the bus stop towards the hospital. He nimbly rounds a couple of junction boxes and a litter bin before walking face first into the larger-than-life sized white-stick-defying pedestal-mounted Clear Channel hoarding promoting SlimFast Slim-Taki™Noodles: DATE NIGHT FRIDAY Chop-chop.

Sunday 4 October 2015

The man two seats in front of me on the bus was wearing 1980s suit trousers

The man sitting two seats in front of me on the bus was wearing 1980s suit trousers, a beige anorak, and something that looked like bird shit in his hair. He was repeatedly slapping himself about the head and face. Behind me, the important-in-corduroy-man was begging to differ with the woman with the bag-for-life, "It's not! It's gonna be another sodding Chinese! Why we need another sodding Chinese when there's already one at the bloody bottom I don't know!” he said before going  on to explain that he'd given up drinking. The woman looked sceptical.

The weather has turned over the last few weeks and they’re selling Christmas decorations at Sainsbury's and Morrison's and the dry cleaners on the ring-road is offering a “Seasonal Ugg Boot Cleaning Service”.

On the moor, acorn and oak-leaves litter the pavement next to the beagles’ kennels. There’s shattered green glass in the gutter. There are concrete lampposts (Concrete Utilities Ltd) and GPO manhole covers, and a pile of dead wood behind an ivy covered wall. There are ferns and holly, rose hips, barking dogs, and cawing crows in the top of the trees. The house with the half-dozen muddy turnips on the doorstep is being clad in pretend wood. 

At the bottom end of the estate, driveways are being resurfaced with small pebbles suspended in clear resin—they look like the top of an apple crumble. There are plastic lawns too, and rusty super-minis, and Octavia Hackney carriages. There are new plastic storm drain grates and concrete top-stones to replace the stolen originals.

At the top of the estate where the big detached houses are, there are leylandii, succulents, rockeries and Alpines, some big toadstools that weren’t there yesterday, a beech hedge, a big overhanging silver birch, ornamental lampposts, pretend mail boxes that are actually bird boxes, yellow grit bins, water butts, high maintenance borders, patios, Burglars Beware neighbourhood watch signs, fire hydrants, bird baths, sundials, and vibrant hi-visibility moss in the grikes between the expensive driveway setts. There was a power cut and all the burglar alarms went off at once.

Monday 21 September 2015

A heron flew over Dale Cottage

A heron flies over Dale Cottage and the last of its pink fuchsias. On the driveway, the man in the blue Vauxhall Zafira with the ladders on the roof is listening to Sigala at high volume. He rocks back and forth enthusiastically in the driver’s seat, mouthing the words, ecstatic.

In the ‘Best Kept Village’ that smellsof two-stroke chainsaw oil, the houses are never finished. The builders have moved on a generation. Out have gone those firms, traditionally named after their proprietor, whose contractors have broad Yorkshire accents, gold earrings and eighties hits on their site radios: ‘Don’t You Want Me, Baby?’ And in have come the firms named after a single word synonym for ‘house’: Home, Abode, Dwelling, Base etc. whose contractors have tattoo sleeves, full-face beards, and nineties hits on their site radios: ‘A Design For Life’.

At the big house in the woods, one of the modern, nineties builders is hoovering the pattern imprinted concrete driveway while another spreads a smelly solvent sealer onto it with a yard brush.

At the house with the big view, the woman in the bathrobe is talking to her neighbour, the man in the lumberjack shirt who has retired to make chainsaw carvings of owls to sell at country art fairs. Her as yet unreconstructed builder, is up a ladder carrying out some never-ending repairs while listening to a histrionic heavy rock guitar solo from about 1986: ‘Livin’
on a Prayer’. “I had the pheasant and Richard had the grouse”, the woman explains, “It was really nicely cooked. Really nice. Lovely”.

Friday 4 September 2015

A cyclist with squeaky brakes and a pair of crutches strapped to his back passed me as I walked into work.

A cyclist with squeaky brakes and a pair of crutches strapped to his back passes me as I walk into work. 

On the bus with some other men in high visibility clothing, the main topics of conversation are caravans, caravan based holidays, and the football transfer window. I alight at the nursing home and follow the woman on the mobility scooter past the ivy-covered lampposts, the pink hydrangeas, the smeared dog shit and the sandwich packaging. I turn off along the terrace with no front gardens; a long row of telly backs and cable knots. I turn off again to a stinking dog piss accreted yard of crisp packets, expanding foam, dandelions and empty milk cartons next door to an obsessive mini Versaille of hoverflies, succulents and fancy gravels. The clock tower strikes the hour and the running man with the dog jumps over the spilt grab bag of Maltesers; neat parallel rows of chocolate beads line up in the grate of the storm drain. Out from the tidy side street of bungalows, the ladies begin to flock with their hair set, their trouser suits pressed, their shoes gold and their shopping bags for life. They each round the corner into the main road and get a wet slap in the face from the big overhanging buddleia. I carry on past the sheltered houses with their gladioli in planters, beige washing lines and handwritten No Parking signs. On, past the back-to-backs where the dock leaves grow from the thick green snail-slime striated moss on the stone steps below the leaky guttering. Past the fairy lights and decking, the cooking sauce jars, squashed slugs and blackberries. On up to the new estate with the fake bricked-up windows, the concrete lintels and architraves, the pretend leaded lights, the miniature gardens (where the box shrubs have already overstepped their boundaries) and the herringbone paving in the communal parking bays: a small Honda, a large Honda, an Astra a Citroen C1... I cut across the sodden plastic lawn (laid directly over stone flags) to the big, gated Victorian, Atkinson Grimshaw mansions whose wide-as- a-street driveways are bordered with poplar, rhododendron, holly, begonia, topiary teddy bears, ferns and golden beech leaves on neatly trimmed lawns; the first fall of autumn. The only other person around is the happy old man with the walking frame.

Thursday 3 September 2015

The Rookery

The Rookery, a short film I shot in Hebden Bridge between February and May this year, will be screened this Saturday. The film stars walkers, bikers, canal boaters, skaters, the woman in the pinny with the squirty cream under her arm, the man who is holding up a bottle of HP sauce, the man who is inside a burger bun, the woman with the purple fleece and matching hair, a box of organic pale ale, Coco and Dior, a crocodile of primary school children, Geoff, A brace of lilac waterproofs, permissive pathways, suggestive trees, a Peugeot 208, a pedigree Weimaraner, exposed purlins, a banoffee pie, the Emergency Gas Response man, an Everlast punch bag, and a psychic evening featuring psychometry…

Featuring a soundtrack by the excellent Jack Reid & the Black Whip:

Further details here:

Wednesday 19 August 2015

6am: it’s quiet in the street apart from the man in the black track-suit who is singing

6 a.m.: it’s quiet on the street apart from the man in the black tracksuit who is singing an indefinable song quite loudly outside Ali Barber’s barber shop.

10 a.m.: In town, the old woman in the open-toed sandals is waiting to cross the road outside the supermarket with her Inca inspired bag-for-life. Next to her is a younger man in a pink shirt and a red, yellow, green and black striped Rasta cap. They cross the road together and make their way around the pile of rubble that was, until last week, the old university sports hall. They pass a soberly dressed man at the bus stop—shiny black shoes, grey suit trousers, pale pink shirt—who is drinking a can of extra strength lager.

11.30 a.m.: In the suburbs, the tarmac is melting. The sun is out, the hydrangeas are out, the big men in shorts and flip-flops are out. A swarm of bees has taken up residence in a crack in the wall of the contract weaver’s shed and the man in the leather gauntlets says “All right, mate?” to me outside the shop that sells mainly tinned peas, jars of tuna paste, and extra-strength cider. My old school teacher has moved house and the new owner has paved over the garden and replaced the big old gloss black hardwood door and leaded lights with white UPVC. There has also been a proliferation of CND graffiti around here recently.

12.30 p.m.: The knackered old boat that I sometimes park up behind for cover while I have a quick brew, is gone. I ask the man who is pouring some concrete where it is. He says I've just missed it, ”Some blokes have been to tow it away.” Around the corner, I see it, stationary and listing badly in the middle of the road, one of the wheels has fallen off its trailer.

3 p.m.: At the shop, the man in front of me in the queue asks for an e-cigarette charger. The proprietor ducks behind the counter, rummages around and comes back up with a USB phone charger.
“No’ says the man, “It’s for my e-cigarettes.”
The proprietor disappears into a storeroom and returns with a large plastic box. He sits it on the counter and pulls out three or four different USB phone chargers.
“No” says the man, “It’s for my e-cigarettes; you know, a three pin plug for the mains with a bit that you screw onto the cigarette at the other end.”
The proprietor rummages through the box again and pulls out another USB phone charger.
“I tell you what,” says the man, “Give me twenty Chesterfield Lights.”
The proprietor rolls up the shutter to the tobacco cabinet, takes out a packet of twenty JPS and puts them on the counter with all the phone cables.
“No” says the man, “20 Chesterfield Lights. There, bottom left.”
The proprietor replaces the packet of JPS and returns with a packet of JPS Blue.
“No” says the man, “I tell you what, Give me 20 Rothmans Superkings, right in the middle there.”
The proprietor replaces the JPS Blue, takes out the Rothmans and hands them over.
“Thank you,” says the man.

Sunday 2 August 2015

The black liner of the wire litter bin outside the Costcutter had blown inside-out...

The black liner of the wire litter bin outside the Costcutter had blown inside-out in the wind and was flapping about inflated like a smaller, less cocksure, banana and ketchup-stained version of the promotional ‘air-dancers’ they used to have outside the Fiat garage when it was a Peugeot one.
A delivery van pulled up and the driver got out. While he was unloading fruit and veg’ he explained how he’d earlier mistaken his own reflection in his misaligned nearside wing mirror for another person and, in the resulting confusion had almost hit a wall.
The KIA saloon with the office chair and the postcard display rack strapped to its roof drove past—just as it had the day-before-yesterday.

When the old man who was cleaning his immaculate 12-year-old Ford Mondeo initially engaged me in conversation I’d assumed he was just being friendly to a stranger, but when he asked me a technical question about the tactics employed by the Huddersfield Giants in their last game, I wondered whether he had mistaken me for somebody else. Not being much of a fan of rugby league, I confessed I had no idea what he was talking about. At first, the man looked confused but then he smiled, got up from where he’d been crouching to polish the chrome of his vintage AA radiator grill badge, and persisted with the subject—presumably assuming I was just amusing myself by teasing him. I reasserted my ignorance on the matter and voiced my suspicion that I wasn’t who he thought I was. Once more, the man briefly looked confused, nervously wrapping his duster around his hand, but again he smiled and continued on the subject. As he seemed so convinced I was somebody I wasn’t, I began to doubt myself; perhaps we had met before and I’d forgotten. Maybe he’d brought up the Huddersfield Giants in conversation on that occasion too and I’d somehow given him the impression that I had some interest and knowledge on the subject—It could easily happen during the course of small talk in a queue or on a bus. I decided to go with this scenario and explained that while I do like to keep an eye on the Giants’ results (an outright lie) I don’t consider myself to be much of an expert and have no worthwhile opinion on their tactics. At this, the man smiled, raised his hands to his eyes like blinkers and said conspiratorially, “I know! It’s all claret and gold with some people, isn’t it?”
At this point, we were interrupted by the two builders who were sitting side-by-side on some scaffolding while they chiselled render from the house next door. They had begun singing R Kelly’s I Believe I Can Fly at the tops of their voices. The old man looked up and shouted over, “Give it a rest now lads!” but it had no effect.
Further down the road I got talking to the woman with the low maintenance hairstyle and the perhaps inadvisable vest-top-with-no-bra. She was telling me about the house she used to live in when she was younger. 
“Where was that?” I asked. 
She waved an enormous arm in the vague direction of half of Huddersfield and said, “You know, number twenty-three do-dah.”

On, and up past the quarry, the airfield, the firework factory and the caravan park to the cul-de-sac of neat 1960s bungalows where the sound of Woman’s Hour was leaking from open kitchen windows and the air smelled of freshly cut leylandii. There was talk of chimineas: “Good grief, how many of these are we having?”

Round the corner at the doctors’ surgery, which was empty apart from an elderly woman and an elderly man who were staring impassively at different walls at either end of the waiting room while Lessons in Love by Level 42 played through the discreetly mounted speakers at quite a high volume.

Monday 27 July 2015

The Rookery: rescheduled screening details.

The screening of The Rookery, a film I made for Hebden Bridge Arts festival has been rescheduled for 4.30pm on 5th September at Hebden Bridge Picture House. It is a free event. Trailer below.

Friday 10 July 2015

On the Estate where Pretend Owls outnumber the Human Population by Two to One, there have been some New Editions.

On the estate where pretend owls outnumber the human population by two to one, there have been some new editions: a tiny little motorbike-and-sidecar with solar powered head-lamps, a concrete kitten, a miniature pretend-stone elephant—curled up asleep, lots of new meerkats and Buddhas and an entire garden stocked exclusively with faded plastic flora and fauna. 

The underlying murmur of people in tight shorts commenting on the warm weather to one another all day long is occasionally punctuated with the noise of power tools and the yelping of small dogs. 

Over by the abandoned Renault Camper, a man in his 70s is showing his new Teddy bear to the woman with pictures of wolves all over her T-shirt.

Further up the valley, outside the High School, the road sweeping man is picking up Maoam wrappers with an extendable litter-picker, soft-toy trophy-lynchings swinging from the handle of his cart.

The fine weather has brought out the clover, the daisies, the bird’s foot trefoil, the mother-die, buttercups, foxgloves, honeysuckle, and the old woman with her specs on a chain who shuffles past a pile of dried dog shit in her open-toed sandals.

Out in the sticks, a hen pheasant flaps out from under the five bar gate at the bottom of the field with the old bath tub in it and a Porsche 4x4 blows past with its windows open, trailing aftershave. 

Outside the village hall there are pots of marigolds around an old church pew with chintz cushions. There’s ivy, there are climbing roses, yew hedges, willow and birch. There are gravel paths with moss edging, potted geraniums and snap-dragons. There are spaniels and Labradors, and pairs of upside-down gardening shoes covered in lawn clippings. There is best bitter, and Radio 4, and Botox, and swallows and martens in the outhouses. Happy golfers wave me past the tee. The stolen top-stones have already been replaced.

It starts to rain summer rain, fat drops that leave big Dalmatian spots on the millstone flags. At the big house with the yellow lichen gables, the old man with the comb-over and frayed grey flannels is frustrated, “I’ve just come out to do a bit in the garden and bugger me if it hasn’t started raining.”

At the modernist house that is being extended using mainly large sheets of chipboard, the builders are discussing an episode of Top Gear in voices that carry.
“Wasn’t it funny when that caravan tried to overtake on the inside—on that bumpy bit?”
“You think we have a good laugh at work, imagine being them!”
A woman walks past with a big Siberian husky, then a jogger who is going barely fast enough to overtake her—he’s wiping the rain from his glasses with the hem of his Scotland football shirt.

The old woman at the farm asks whether I’ve got a mac in my van. I say I have and she gives me a double thumbs up and a big grin, “Well, go and put it on, I can see the blobs all over your shirt.”

Back in town the woman with the long-haired dachshunds is talking to the man taking photographs from the viewing point in the park.
“It’s gorgeous, isn’t it?
“Yes,” says the man
“We don’t appreciate it enough, living round here, do we?”

Sunday 21 June 2015

In the Close Humidity of Snapped off Saplings

In the close humidity of snapped off saplings, broken concrete, takeaway flyers, footballs in trees and trainers on wires, the dirty scrap man with the homemade tattoos is here for the Ikea bedstead. 

Two teens with half-closed eyes smoke weed while their Staffy intimidates the old Asian woman in salwar kameez. 

The shop is stuffy and smells of dog food. A young woman buys four bottles of Fruit Shoot, “I water them down but he still acts like a wild child, It’s a bloody nightmare!”

Further up the valley, in the open breeze and swaying beech trees, the Abel & Cole man buzzes around the laburnum, rhododendron, and the topiary box footballs in his tidy fleece jacket and yellow van.

The council gardener is sitting on the kerb mixing up some two-stroke in a jerry can while his colleague is on his knees lifting out dandelions at the base of the school fence.

A man walking a Cairn terrier passes me, “Are you lost?” he asks.

Litter Survey: Fitzwilliam Street to Church Street, via Greenhead Park, Heaton Road, and Branch Street.
Date: Wednesday, 17th June 2015
Weather: Warm, dry, still
Duration: 24 mins

Costa take-out cup.
Coca-Cola plastic bottle
Mayfair cigarette packet
Greggs take-out plastic cup
Richmond cigarette packet
Greggs take-out paper bag
Benson & Hedges cigarette packet.
Kinder Bueno packaging
Train ticket
7up drink can
Pile of indeterminate cigarette butts
Coca-Cola plastic bottle
Polystyrene takeaway container
Dairy Milk wrapper
Haribo sweet packet
Benson & Hedges cigarette packet
Wheat Crunchies packet
Richmond cigarette packet
Rizla packaging
Kellogs Coco Pops Snack Bar wrapper
Ribena plastic bottle
Benson & Hedges cigarette packet
Benson & Hedges cigarette packet
Expired DVLA tax disc
Capri Sun carton
Till receipt
Pages from The Huddersfield Examiner
Polystyrene cup
Capri Sun carton
Two ’wet wipes’
A child’s seaside fishing net
Mayfair cigarette packet (20)
Mayfair cigarette packet (10)
Pile of indeterminate cigarette butts
Coca Cola can
Costa sugar wrapper
Boost Energy Drink can
Pepsi can
Maoam sweet wrapper
Mr Freeze packaging
Rubicon mango drink can
Walkers Cheese & Onion crisps
Mayfair cigarette packet
Plastic fork
Polystyrene cup
Polystyrene cup
Paper serviette
Plastic water bottle (indeterminate brand)
A hair roller
Snickers wrapper
Lucasade bottle
Wrigley’s Extra chewing gum wrapper
Paracodol packaging
Lambert & Butler cigarette packet

Saturday 6 June 2015

The Postman Leans Against the Bus Shelter and Squints into the Squall

The postman leans against the bus shelter and squints into the squall, “As long as my fags and my phone are dry, I don’t give a shit about anything else,” he says.

Two ducks fly over the swathes of buttercups in the yellow meadow off Moor Lane.

“Are burglars poor?” the young son asks his dad.
“That depends on how successful a burglar they are,” his dad replies.

A pair of crows fly over the Ferrari, the rhododendrons, the brace of Range Rovers. They land on the ridge tiles of Wisteria Cottage with its gravel, its vintage boot jack, the stone pixies climbing over its gate, and its wisteria.

The view, like the cars and the houses around here, is massive.

There’s an angry bee trapped under the plastic envelope housing the planning notice that’s stuck to the lamp post next to the Toyota Previa with the long deliberate looking scratch down its side.

The man from Sunny View has come outside, hood drawstring tight. He tells me to get myself out of the rain.

I wonder if the little ginger dog turd left next to the imprint of a dog’s paw in the cement around the drain cover is a memorial tribute.

The old lady with the piles of books and the oxygen tank has died.

The couple who are always arguing with the windows open are arguing with the windows open. 

“Nice one, mate. See you later, bud,” says the young man through a haze of weed smoke from the passenger seat of the little Suzuki Ignis with the Ferrari air freshener hanging from the rear view mirror.

Later, the sun dries the rain and brings out the man who hoovers his pattern imprinted concrete driveway. Then there’s the man in the shorts and the rugby shirt who calls his Jack Russell terrier a knobhead and a tit.

The man in his 70s with the opaque reactolites and the black labrador stops to talk to the other man in his 70s with opaque reactolites and black labrador. They compare experiences of electrocardiography.

The roofers’ expletive ridden conversation is easily loud enough to be heard from the bus stop where the woman with the Sainsbury’s bag-for-life raises an outraged eyebrow.

What I thought was a bee in the pocket of my shirt was just a piece of tree litter.

The estate agent in the tailored grey waistcoat, jeans, light tan brogues and sunglasses climbs out of his black Audi S4. He grabs the large, strappy digital SLR from the passenger seat, takes a couple of snaps of the end-terrace with the pretend wooden front door and drives away again.

Back in town, I get off the bus and the Asian man who is wearing salwar kameez and holding a toilet seat is having a stand up row about parking spaces with a fat bald white man with no shirt on and ketchup around his mouth.

Saturday 23 May 2015

I left at 6 a.m.

I left at 6 a.m., the low sun glinting off silver seams of slug trail. 
At the junction where the double yellow lines divert around the big sycamore, Jackson Pollock bird shit covered the road and part of the abandoned pushchair.

A funfair has set up in the park, behind the row of massive green Dolly Mixture holly bushes. I walked past behind two other men in high-vis vests: 
“Do you know that guy up Deighton with one arm?”
“Aye, that’s him, Stumpy…”

In town, I passed a noisy lock-in at the bar under the railway arches: “Setting the new standard of late night drinking culture…”

Later, I drove out to the country, where nightclub moguls build the most ostentatious houses as high up the panoramic ridge as possible. They compete for the stripiest lawns, the most absurd double/triple life-size buddhas, the most bloated shiny black 4x4’s, the most unorthodox use of decorative gravels and spars etc.

Mr Briggs pulled up in an old Toyota Yaris: 
“I’ve just taxed this, £60. Just insured it, £250.”
That's all. Then he went.

In the village, this year's flying ant sex orgy was underway and the builders were listening to 80s heavy metal on a paint-spattered radio.

Back in town, a man with a chin-strap beard popped up from behind the fence of residential care home:
“Hello, mate. Do you know me?” he asked.
“No,” I said.
“Well, this is a residential home and I’m Wayne. I’m a bit autistic; I’m always thinking people are going to knife me. That’s no way to carry on, is it?”
“No,” I said. I didn’t know what else to say so I said, “You should be all right at the moment, there’s nobody around” and I set off walking again. 
Wayne shouted after me, “But I look all right though, don’t I?”

I shouted back, “Yeah, yes, you look fine.”